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"It's all about me, it's all about me,
—"All About Me", Commentary! The Musical
A character that has limited screen time, and usually not much in the way of plot relevance, but is still one of the most memorable things in the movie. They may even be given top billing, or at least an "And Starring" credit, along with the more obvious stars.
This is not the same principle as Ensemble Darkhorse, because the character is often played by an established actor, nor is it the same as Dead Star Walking, because the intent is not to fool you into thinking that the actor will appear more often. The character just appears, gives a show-stealing performance, and then is gone. Like a Spear Carrier, only way more righteous. Like a Cameo, except you don't have to recognize the actor to appreciate the scene for all its worth. You know you're dealing with this sort of character if you start referring to "their scene."
Many characters of this type will be clergymen of some kind, particularly in comedy. A good reason this works is because of The Vicar principle, and because clergymen are really only needed for wedding scenes anyway. The character type needn't be played for comedy, but frequently is. Often a Large Ham.
Also see Kent Brockman News. Compare Ham and Cheese, Spotlight-Stealing Squad, and Small Role, Big Impact. Fanfic authors are prone to make characters like this into OC Stand Ins. If the character becomes so popular that the writers decide to come up with an excuse just so be able to use him again, he's an Ascended Extra.
If the movie is particularly bad, the One Scene Wonder may be All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game". When a minor character in a musical does this through the use of one fantastic song, it's Minor Character, Major Song.
Anime and Manga
- Abel Nightroad is the main character of Trinity Blood, but his superpowered form, the Crusnik, has so few appearances that it counts.
- Giant Robo has the remaining members of the Big Bad ruling council, the Magnificent Ten. Plenty of people were disappointed at how they only got a few minutes between them to strut their stuff, but damn it was cool.
- They even have the established star thing going for them, as the cast of Giant Robo are all characters from previous anime & manga by Mitsuteru Yokoyama. This was most definitely intentional, as they were supposed to be the main antagonist (as indicated by the Sequel Hook) for the Grand Finale before it got cut short.
- Their boss, Big Fire himself, had even less screentime, most of which was actually an impostor, but is just as well-remembered.
- A common surprise for anyone that gets into Haruhi Suzumiya via the hype around it is that Internet meme Ensemble Darkhorse Tsuruya has a very small role in the show, with only one or two memorable scenes; her actual Character Focus comes a while later in the books on which the series is based.
- Emiri Kimidori, who appeared once in one episode, but got her own Image Song album before some other main characters. She, too, gets fleshed out a little later on in the books, but she's still a very minor character... so far.
- Ryoko Asakura could count as well. Sure, she had a few scenes in the first few episodes, and she gets good screen time in The Movie and the tenth novel, but the only scene where she really gets much characterization or interaction with anyone else is a doozy.
- Kazuhiko Amagasaki from Tenchi Muyo! who appeared briefly in the first episode of the original OVA series, but ended up with his own Omake comics and a much larger role in Tenchi in Tokyo.
- Many fans of Princess Tutu consider a character who only appears in one episode as one of their favorites. Femio, an outlandish, beauty-obsessed, rose-wielding ballet student shows up as a victim for the Dark Magical Girl, and he's so hilarious that he's become a hugely popular character to the fandom, showing up in fanart, fanfic, cosplay and roleplaying nearly as much as the actual main characters of the show, probably because he defeats the powers of darkness through sheer narcissism and stupidity.
- Oh yeah, and he's also voiced by Vic Mignogna. Keep in mind that this was years before Ouran.
- Noriko and Kazumi's appearance at the end of Diebuster stole the climax of the show. They were only in it for about 30 seconds had no lines and weren't even seen yet they managed to turn a Bittersweet Ending into a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
- Gustav St. Germain from Baccano! fits this trope like a glove. He's in the series for a grand total of ten minutes, barely makes an impact on the plot, and yet he's probably just as memorable as some as the biggest Badasses in the series. Why? Well...
- It's also because he's essentially the narrator of the show's Framing Device.
- Chiyo's Dad in Azumanga Daioh has a speaking part in about five skits, but is one of the mascots of the series.
- Kaworu appeared for only one episode in Neon Genesis Evangelion (and the climactic parts of End of Evangelion), yet he is in the most memorable scene in the entire series and the results of that scene trigger the end of the series (whichever one you go by). It may be interesting to note that he is getting a bigger role in The Remake Rebuild of Evangelion.
- Lord Raptor in the Darkstalkers OVA, his depiction is often considered to be incredibly awesome (and is also one of Scott McNeil's coolest performances). Only problem? He was only in the 1st episode for about 10 minutes...
- Several one-shot characters in Pokémon apply, even though many of them usually appear in only one episode they are often deemed as some of the show's most memorable characters. Whether its characters whom are actually from the games such as Lt. Surge and Sabrina, or Anime only characters such as A.J and Giselle.
- Death Note: Barring one cameo appearance a few episodes earlier, Matt only shows up for the kidnapping scene before getting riddled with bullets. Hasn't stopped him from becoming one of the fans' favourite characters.
- He appears a bit more in the manga before that scene, though his appearances are so sporadic that they all amount to 16 panels  maximum.
- Then there's the random TV reporter, who shows up for about one minute to denounce Kira, giving his full name at the end and establishing himself as one of the most courageous characters in the entire series.
- Jinpei Matsuda of Detective Conan. He appeared in exactly one Backstory arc of this Long Runner and its effects to the canon is arguably minor (except for Inspector Sato), but he still listed as one of the main characters on the show's official website.
- Sano the Hospital Hottie whom was only in the 22nd episode of the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series but lets just say some folks remember her for her... potential -- she was a fairly blatant Ms. Fanservice Lipstick Lesbian whom was blatantly trying to hit on the Major. However the only reason why that episode didn't become a softcore lesbian porno was because she was actually a assassin that Motoko had to stop and beat. (Besides Sano would most likely be a part of Motoko's little harem if she turned out to be good anyways.)
- Burger-kun's five minutes of screentime in Darker Than Black Season 2 somehow managed to net him an internet fandom, for God knows what reason.
- Bruce Ironstaunch from Gurren Lagann. He's just some nameless member of a cheering crowd who makes a Bicep-Polishing Gesture while Rossiu is announcing that Simon will be executed. Since that gesture means "up yours" elsewhere, Western fans saw him as the one good man standing up for the heroes, and he became a legend.
- The Farmer with Shotgun from the first episode of Dragonball Z.
- Ojamajo Doremi Naisho has a character named Faami, who only appeared in the last episode but is particularly memorable, mainly because she's Doremi's granddaughter from the future.
- In-Universe example. In Only Yesterday Taeko recalls how as a child, she had a one-line part in her school play. Determined to get as much use of this role as possible, she puts significantly more effort into this single line than the rest of the performers, resulting in her stealing the show and being offered a role in a completely different play. However, her father forbids her from accepting the role.
- In Tiger & Bunny, Origami Cyclone is a "superhero" who does very little by way of actual crimefighting, and the ranking system that the city uses places him even lower than the Butt Monkey, Wild Tiger. Nevertheless, his corporate sponsors are very happy with him, because he's good at his real job of inserting himself anywhere there's a camera as living advertisement.
- In Episode 1 of Gundam Unicorn, when the Kshatriya is generally fucking things up, one nameless Mook in a Stark Jegan decides to take it on by himself, putting up a very good fight before being sliced in half. He is known only as godspeed.
- Soul Eater: Excalibur has a tendency to do this, especially in the Wrath Chapter of Eibon.
- An unnamed one-panel character in Mahou Sensei Negima managed to get her own entry in the character sheet for the impressive feat of cramming twelve Fanservice Tropes into said appearance.
- In Outlaw Star, Shimi/ Leilong is perhaps the biggest bad ass of the series, defeating the entire crew in open combat, but only appears in one episode, and he doesn't even die like almost every other one-off villian.
- Inuyama, the "cowardly" samurai/firefly enthusiast/ assassin from Samurai Champloo only gets one episode and he nearly beats Jin, stopping only when he discovers his employer's death and decides to walk away. And what's worse, he promises that they'll meet again.
- Code Geass has Mao. He was only in a few episodes in a row towards the middle of the first season, but is remembered for being Crazy Awesome, and at the very least foreshadowed Lelouch's Power Incontinence.
- Anytime Batman cameos in someone else's book, especially since, away from home, he gets to be hilarious.
- Nazi dinosaur Tyrannosaurus Reich. Only appears in two issues of Major Bummer and his concept is as awesomely cool as it is utterly ridiculous.
- Neil Gaiman specifically mentions that he didn't have Death appear more often in The Sandman because he didn't want to water down the effect and specialness of her appearances. He still found a way for her to show up in all of the trade paperbacks, however, even if sometimes it's just in a silent cameo.
- Nextwave made a single-page appearance, complete with NW-style info box pointing it out as a superfluous cameo, in Marvel Zombies VS Army of Darkness.
- SNOWFLAME, god of Cocaine? Dude appeared in only one issue of the New Guardians comic, but boy did he steal it.
- Tif from Ironwood is a definite fan favourite, despite making only one appearance (and dying at the end of it). Bill Willingham has said that he has had more requests for sketches of Tif than any other character from the series (probably due to interesting physical appearance).
- Christopher Walken has a habit of appearing in small roles in just about anything. A good solid chunk of his roles are him just showing up in the middle of the movie, stealing a scene, and going on his merry way, as aptly illustrated by the poster atop this page. Walken is firmly on record as never turning down a gig, as long as he has the time in his schedule. It doesn't matter how good or bad your movie is, or how large or small the part is; you give him some money (and it doesn't have to be very much money, either), and Christopher Walken will show up and act.
- In Pennies From Heaven, he plays a pimp, who does a striptease.
- He has a single scene in Pulp Fiction in which he tells an inappropriately graphic story to young Butch about the journey of his father's watch.
- Romance and Cigarettes. He turns up, sings "Delilah," sings "Red Headed Woman," fucks off again, and the best part of the movie is over.
- This explains his presence in The Affair of the Necklace. Anyone could have played Count Cagliostro, but they wouldn't have made him the most entertaining part of the film. Well, the second most, but to be fair it's very hard to compete with the dead gopher they glued to Simon Baker's head as a wig, and it did have a lot more screen time.
- Mousehunt sees Walken playing a hammy and delightfully over the top exterminator who completely steals the scene and ends up blowing up a large portion of the house in his efforts to kill a single mouse.
- Walken is also the centerpiece of probably the only good scene from Gigli.
- Christopher Walken shares credit with Dennis Hopper for completely stealing the entire film when both appear together for a single scene in True Romance.
- Likewise, his appearance as Clem the Janitor in the otherwise forgettable Joe Dirt, where he threatens to stab Kid Rock in the face with a soldering iron.
- Although he might have had a bit too much screentime to count as one in The Rundown it still follows the same general pattern.
- Does a similar thing as the Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow, this time even without dialogue.
- Again in Abel Ferrara's philosophical vampire film The Addiction, where he shows up just to deliver a five-minute monologue on Sartre and vampirism.
- An early example is his turn as Annie's disturbed brother in Annie Hall.
- Al Pacino in Gigli
- Jean Reno as "the cleaner" has one scene in La femme Nikita, but it is probably what viewers remember best about the whole movie. In fact the scene was so memorable that director Luc Besson decided to make a similar character the protagonist of his next film, with the role specifically written for Reno.
- Bill Bailey as the Whale in the film of The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy.
- Sean Connery has a cameo appearance as King Richard at the end of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It's the best scene in the movie that doesn't involve Alan Rickman leaving teeth-marks in the set.
- Orson Welles's role as Cardinal Wolsey in the 1966 film version of A Man for All Seasons. He's in two scenes, and is probably the best thing about this very excellent film. In a later version of the film, John Gielgud did a pretty decent, though less remarkable, job in the role as well.
- Diedrich Bader in Napoleon Dynamite as Rex the patriotic martial arts instructor with the bodybuilder wife.
- Diedrich Bader a mugger in Eurotrip who robs Jamie while he's being orally pleased, though he's being unaware of it and confused by Jaimie's remarks.
- The balloon guy in The Third Man ("Ballon, Mein Herr?"). Orson Welles himself comes close, but is in several scenes and is the main antagonist, excluding him from the trope.
- Orson Welles as Father Mapple in the 1956 version of Moby Dick, which also can boast Gregory Peck and John Huston as stars, with a screenplay by Ray Bradbury.
- Alec Baldwin is in Glengarry Glen Ross for exactly one scene, in which he delivers a monologue that establishes the atmosphere of menace that overhangs the rest of the film. It's one of the more famous monologues of cinema. Interestingly, the character and his speech were created exclusively for the film, due to studio executives feeling that the original play lacked the necessary exposition needed to establish the premise.
- In Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the main character and his band meet famous musicians of the 60s during the height of their fame. Scene-stealers include Jack White as a conceited, drugged-out, mumbling Elvis with kung-fu skills and Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Justin Long and Jason Schwartzman as the Beatles.
- Vincent Price in Edward Scissorhands, who almost steals the film from Johnny Depp. In fact the film created him a whole new following, his mannerisms and deep character acting captivating a lot of new fans.
- The Aviator has Jude Law star in one scene as Errol Flynn. He steals the scene completely.
- Singin in The Rain
- Cyd Charisse in . The entire "Broadway Melody" sequence is completely superfluous to the plot, and done entirely to try to recapture the glory of An American in Paris, but Charisse's silent performance as an icy gangster moll is still one of the most memorable things in the film. The screaming fanboy who shows up at the movie premiere in the opening sequence is also surprisingly memorable.
- Julius Tannen, who will forever be known as the "Talking Picture Man". Especially his feigned humility anticipating applause at the end.
- David Bowie has been this more than once:
- Vendice Partners in Absolute Beginners. This character is one of several antagonists in on an evil scheme, and he convinces the idealistic photographer hero to join his advertising agency and become a sellout. He gets one big sequence, a brief appearance beforehand, and a wordless bit prior to the climax. But that's enough time for the spectacular Villain Recruitment Song / Disney Acid Sequence "That's Motivation", and between that and performing the movie's Title Theme Tune (he wrote both songs too, and there was a music video for the latter on top of that), Bowie was billed third in the credits, behind only the young lovers at the story's heart.
- Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ.
- Heavily Lampshaded in Zoolander, where they give his brief appearance as the Walk-Off judge a ludicrous amount of fanfare -- to the point of plastering his name on the screen and starting up the song, "Let's Dance." The scene is completely fucking awesome.
- And then there was also The Prestige.
- Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back does something similar to Zoolander for Mark Hamill's cameo, but ratcheted up the cheesiness. George Carlin's cameo as a hitchhiker is also very much an example, as is Chris Rock as the director of Bluntman and Chronic, and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as themselves on the set of Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season. And Gus Van Sant as himself. And Tracy Morgan essentially playing a black version of Jay.
- Jay and Silent Bob turn up in Scream 3 for all of ten seconds.
- The Mouth of Sauron in the movie version of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, played by Bruce Spence (not that you'll notice), who was cut in the theatrical release. He appears only briefly to negotiate on behalf of his master before Aragon cuts his head off, but his unique character design and mannerisms makes him hard to forget.
- In the movie Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles Mark Hamill was cast as Daryl Taylor only to be killed off within about three lines. All of these previously-mentioned tropes are later subverted when, later on, he provides the voice for one of the Haydonite villains.
- Cary Elwes gets one in The Chase, as a smarmy newscaster who has to apologize to his viewers due to Charlie Sheen's flipping off the camera.
- The Princess Bride has that very good scene with Billy Crystal and Carol Kane, but an even better example would be Peter Cook's role as the aptly titled Impressive Clergyman with the speech impediment.
- Four Weddings and a Funeral has Rowan Atkinson in a minor role as Gerald, the priest who keeps screwing up his lines in Wedding Number Two. He gets the names of both parties wrong, mentions the Holy Goat and the Holy Spigot, and utters the classic line "awful wedded wife". He gets the coveted and.
- Rowan Atkinson is in all of two scenes in Love Actually, one of which has him on-screen for maybe 10 seconds, and they're both absolutely hilarious.
- John Hurt as Jellon Lamb, the Bounty Hunter who believes in neither God nor evolution, but is a big racist, in The Proposition. Only in two scenes, but completely owns both of them, and is billed as one of the film's stars. In the Making Of featurette on the DVD, he mentions that many of the other actors had originally wanted his role, even though it would mean less screen time than some of them actually got.
- William Hurt, in A History of Violence, has a single scene as Joey Cusack's brother. It's about five to ten minutes long. He was nominated for an Oscar.
- True Romance is filled with Wonders, including Gary Oldman as the menacing pimp, Christopher Walken as the formidable gangster, Dennis Hopper as the sacrificial father, Brad Pitt as the clueless stoner, James Gandolfini as a hitman who suffers a Rasputinian Death, Saul Rubinek as a coked-out movie producer, and Val Kilmer as the ghost of Elvis.
- Pontius Pilate in Monty Python's Life of Brian is one of the most memowable aspects of the film.
- Steven Ford in Starship Troopers has an epic pre-drop speech prior to the assault on Klendathu. Of course, he's horribly killed during the actual fighting.
- Three of the best-remembered things in Monty Python and The Holy Grail are the Frenchman, the Black Knight, and the Knights Who Say Ni, the first two played by John Cleese and the last by Michael Palin.
- Powers Boothe and Rutger Hauer in Sin City are completely captivating in their one scene each.
- Patrick Stewart has quite a few of these:
- His cameo in the final scene of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which he steals in classic Large Ham fashion. Appropriately enough, the same role (King Richard the Lionhearted) was played in Prince of Thieves by an uncredited Sean Connery who also stole that scene merely by showing up.
- His role as Mr. Perdue in L.A. Story.. "You think with a financial statement like this you can have the duck?"
Mr. Perdue: Your usual table, Mr. Christopher?
- Smiley's People also features a memorable role from Michael Gough, better known as Alfred Pennyworth, who plays an Estonian refugee.
- Christopher Lee
- Essentially as himself, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The twist is that he takes all of the Dracula and Saruman mannerisms and transposes them onto a dentist. Just imagine Christopher Lee throwing his resonant basso into the word "Lollipops." (To be fair, it'd be very tricky for anyone to not consider Christopher Lee frightening, let alone as a dentist.)
- His portrayal of the Burgomaster in Sleepy Hollow.
- And as the voice of the Jabberwocky in Alice in Wonderland. Apparently Tim Burton likes to put him in roles like these.
- Kathy Bates as Queen Victoria in the Jackie Chan flick Around the World in Eighty Days (Not to mention Arnold Schwarzenegger in a very funny cameo!!!)
- Hannibal Lecter started out as one of these in Manhunter, back when he was Brian Cox. Three scenes, owns the movie. He doesn't even do much except sit there with his jaw hanging out, taunt the hero, and talk on the telephone, and yet... and yet...
- Sir Alec Guiness often did this, and the smaller his role, the more memorable it often is. He managed to upstage both Peter O'Toole (in Lawrence of Arabia) and Omar Sharif (Dr. Zhivago) playing roles which, while crucial to the films, had relatively little screen time. He has a memorable role as Pope Innocent in Brother Sun, Sister Moon. He was so mesmerizing Jacob Marley in the musical Scrooge that he earned an additional scene, Not In The Book, that appears in longer versions of the film.
- All three Raimi films featured Bruce Campbell in a different Cameo role each time, but it wasn't until the third that he became a One-Scene Wonder with his amusing French maitre'd.
- "Macho Man" Randy Savage's role in the first movie as "Bonesaw Mcgraw", a crazy wrestler who wouldn't look out of place on something like ECW.
- And Hal Sparks' hilariously awkward elevator scene in the second movie. Especially if you remember him from Queer as Folk; you almost expect the next scene to start with them making out.
- Tap dancing duo The Nicholas Brothers were very much this, as they were usually only in all of their films for a dance number - all of those dance numbers being so amazing many people can't remember anything else about the films. Such as this scene from Stormy Weather.
- Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet in Casablanca, as, respectively, the conniving Guillermo Ugarte and the scheming restaurateur Mr. Ferrari.
- Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet also appear in this scene in Hollywood Canteen.
- Grindhouse features several:
- Tarantino himself has a memorable cameo in Planet Terror as a soldier who attempts to rape the heroine as his zombified genitals decompose in front of her.
- In one the fake trailers, for Werewolf Women of the SS, features Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu for no apparent reason. It's almost enough to wash the bad taste from The Wicker Man right out of your mouth.
- The Fake Trailer for Hobo With A Shotgun is made of this trope.
- The CPR Kid/Wallet Guy from Back to The Future Part II only has a few seconds of screen time in the whole movie, but he's memorable for asking "what's CPR?" when Marty claims he knows it, as well as repeating the line "I think he took his wallet!" after Marty knocks Biff back out and steals the Almanac.
- It's hard to see a The Little Shop of Horrors poster that doesn't advertise Jack Nicholson's appearance as "dentist patient number one". In fact, the whole dentist subplot became so memorable, in the Broadway adaptation, it was enlarged to make the dentist a Romantic False Lead. Bill Murray's played Nicholson's old part in the film adaptation of the musical.
- Viggo Mortensen has a small part playing Satan in The Prophecy. He only has three scenes, two of which are fairly short, but they're the best part of the movie and and very, very chilling, particularly the first scene. Considering the main villain is Christopher Walken as an evil angel, that's a tall order.
- Mortensen has a memorable one scene as the wheelchair-bound Lalin in Carlitos Way.
- In Transformers,
- Bernie Mac plays a memorable used car salesman in only one scene.
- Sideswipe is shown being absolutely Badass in the opening scene or Revenge Of the Fallen, but barely appears in the rest of the movie.
- Jetfire is one of the most beloved characters in the movie, even though he only appears twice: the first to teleport the main characters and leave, the second to die. Being a Cool Old Guy who is also an SR-71 probably does it.
- In the third movie, we have (Ken Jeong as) Jerry Wang, a crazy Conspiracy Theorist who works at Sam's office. What did he do that made him so memorable? Faced with immediate termination at the hands of Laserbeak, he decides to forego pleading for his life in favor of suddenly pulling out two very large pistols (which he holds gangsta-style) and pointing them right at Laserbeak's face.
Jerry Wang: You messed with the wrong Wang, bitch!
- John Houseman started acting in movies (rather than producing them) when he was over sixty years old, and so, his example of this trope in Seven Days in May as one of the military coup-plotters was in fact his first appearence on screen. And then twenty years later, he did the same with his last role, as the hilariously unflappable driving instructor in The Naked Gun.
- Crispin Glover again in David Lynch's Wild at Heart. His role as Christmas-obsessed, sandwich-making cousin Dell, who enjoys putting cockroaches in his underpants and has a terrible fear of black gloves - in lasts for about three minutes and is probably the weirdest damn thing he's ever done, which is saying a lot.
- The Harry Potter film series has a few:
- David Tennant, while not the best thing about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, certainly puts in a show-stopping performance as Barty Crouch Jr.
- Jeff Rawle's tragic scene as Amos Diggory crying over Cedric's body.
- Julie Christie as Madame Rosmerta in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- Emma Thompson, as Sybil Trelawny in Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix.
- John Hurt as Ollivander in the first movie. If you'll pardon the pun, spellbinding.
- Nick Moran made a short but impressive appearance as the leader of a gang of snatchers in Deathly Hallows part 1
- Also in Hallows, Bill Nighy is Rufus Scrimgeour, inexplicably Welsh Minister for Magic, symbol of strength, beacon of hope to the Wizarding World! Gets maybe two minutes.
- In Network, Ned Beatty as ominous CEO Arthur Jensen. The guy's onscreen probably five minutes, but his speech is utterly fantastic. "You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I WON'T HAVE IT! IS THAT CLEAR??" And then there's Beatrice Straight in the same film, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for what was, at the time, the shortest amount of time an Oscar-winning role had been onscreen. Beatty was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
- Thomas Haden Church as the CEO of Brawndo in Idiocracy. Two minutes of pure hilarity. "The computer's doing that auto-layoff thingy!"
- Bryan Forbes' comic period piece The Wrong Box, from 1966, has a big cast of British stars including Michael Caine, Ralph Richardson, John Mills, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Nanette Newman, and Tony Hancock. But it's Peter Sellers as a pathetic, old, deranged, cat-loving doctor called on to provide a death certificate who steals the movie with two scenes totaling less than 10 minutes screen time.
- William Fichtner, being one of the great Hollywood character actors, has more than his share of these.
- Yet another man of the cloth, Peter Vaughan as a hardassed Bishop of Digne in the Liam Neeson version of Les Misérables.
- Gene Hackman's blind hermit character in Young Frankenstein. He evidently took the role because Mel Brooks dared him to.
- Notes On a Scandal. Bill Nighy. He is in two scenes. The first introduces his character, the second is an argument with his wife, (Cate Blanchett) when he discovers that she's been having an affair with one of her fifteen year-old students. The movie stars two excellent actors in Judi Dench and the aforementioned Blanchett, both at the top of their respective games. The subject matter is titillating, and the script is well written. It would take one heck of an actor to draw attention, even momentarily, away from all of that to show the real human cost of such a scandal. Bill Nighy is such an actor.
- Robin Williams
- As a Russian gynecologist in Nine Months. He only shows up twice, but you'll remember him (of course you will, he's Robin Williams).
- He has two brief scenes in Kenneth Branagh's Dead Again as a former psychiatrist that are quite memorable. It's officially a cameo too, as Williams didn't want to be credited or appear in promotional material lest people assume the film a comedy.
- As the King Of The Moon in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (credited as Ray D. Tutto.
- King Osric in Conan the Barbarian is exactly this: he's played by Max Von Sydow, appears in only one scene and does his monologue in an incredibly humane and intriguing way.
- Will Ferrell
- Alfred Molina as strung-out drug kingpin Rahad Jackson in Boogie Nights. You will never be able to listen to "Jessie's Girl" or "Sister Christian" the same way again.
- In Prince of Persia the Sands of Time, Molina steals every scene he appears as Sheik Amar.
- Ben Stein in, of course, Ferris Buellers Day Off. "Bueller? Bueller?" Also, Charlie Sheen as the hoodlum in the scene in the police station with Jeannie near the end. "You wear too much makeup. My sister wears too much makeup. She looks like a whore."
- Ben Stein gets a scene in The Mask when Stanley Ipkiss tries to make sense of his zany newfound artifact, and the beginning of Son of the Mask, where his face gets separated from his head and put on display by Loki.
- Marissa Jaret Winokur's sullen fast-food server, Janine ("You are so busted!"), in American Beauty. At a screening of the film, the character's smug little smirk at Annette Bening not only elicited laughs from the audience, but actual applause.
- Both the lemur king (Sasha Baron Cohen) and the penguins in Madagascar. Both had extended roles in the sequel, and remain the funniest things in both movies, to the point where some reviews are lamenting the fact that the main cast has to appear at all. Nana as well. She had fewer than five lines in the first movie, but proved so popular that she was brought back for the sequel as a Designated Villain.
- In the classic, star-studded movie version of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express from 1974, Ingrid Bergman won an Oscar for her role as the half-crazy Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson, who is practically only seen onscreen during a 7 minute near-monologue. Bergman herself, however, said that Valentina Cortese should've won. This trope applies to nearly everyone in the film; With the exception of Hercule Poirot and the director of the train, who interrogate each passenger, no one has more than three scenes; Just the same, every actor gives a full movie's performance in their 7 minutes on-screen.
- Dame Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth I needed only nine minutes of screen time to run away with Shakespeare in Love and an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
"Have her then, but you're a lordly fool. She's been plucked since I saw her last, and not by you... it takes a woman to know it."
- Barbara Billingsley, even though she's only in one scene, has one of the greatest comedic moments in movie history:
"Pardon me, stewardess, I speak jive."
- There's also Johnny, and Ethel Merman as the soldier who thinks he's Ethel Merman.
- Sammy Davis, Jr, in Sweet Charity. He shows up, blows the rest of the cast right off the screen with a stunning rendition of the movie's best song ("Rhythm of Life"), then vanishes, his hipster-preacher character and the sequence in which he appears having absolutely nothing to do with the storyline. Classic Wonder.
- In When Harry Met Sally, Estelle Reiner brings down the house with her one and only line, which is the most memorable line in the film: "I'll have what she's having!" (She's director Rob Reiner's mother.)
- Justin Long as a matter-of-fact gay porn star in Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and Brandon Routh as his boyfriend.
"I will be your sherpa up the mountain of gayness."
- Christopher Plummer showed up at Nic Cage's grandfather at the beginning of National Treasure (one of his earlier roles in his 21st-century comeback, and it was pretty awesome).
- The Street Preacher, Dolph Lundgren's Jesus-obsessed cyborg hitman, is easily the best part of Johnny Mnemonic. Admittedly, that's not saying much, but he easily outshines the film's other attempts at One Scene Wonders (Ice-T playing... Ice-T the urban revolutionary, and Henry Rollins playing... Henry Rollins the cyborg medic).
Street Preacher: Do you want him brought to Jesus, or to you?
- Star Wars
- Darth Maul. Speaks about fifteen words over the course of maybe a half dozen scenes, but is arguably the single coolest thing in the entire prequel trilogy.
- From the original Star Wars trilogy, Boba Fett had only a handful of speaking lines and appeared for a total of ten minutes throughout, but was so popular he was written in to the prequel and even has books focused on him. It's probably the outfit.
- Also from the original trilogy,the reaction from the owner of The Rancor after Luke is forced to kill it.
- Similar to the Boba Fett example, Greedo only gets one scene where he gets shot by Han Solo. He's since become so popular and well known (most likely due to the whole "Han shot first" thing) that a number of comics and cartoons have been written exploring upon him as a character. The most notable example would be the Underworld comic which reveals why Greedo took the job to kill Han (he was trying to become a well-known bounty hunter but was failing miserably) and why he wanted to kill Han (he was majorly jealous of Solo, not to mention that Han was kind of a dick to him).
- Chris Sarandon's outstanding turn as Al Pacino's pre-op transgendered girlfriend in the classic Dog Day Afternoon garnered him an Oscar nomination and made his career, despite his appearing in only two scenes.
- Neil Patrick Harris' much-loved cameo in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle as well as Nurse Ryan Reynolds
- John Vernon in Killer Klowns from Outer Space. "Killer clowns, from outer space. Holy shit!"
- Super-obscure example: Danny Glover in Out (aka Deadly Drifter). Granted, he made it before rising to stardom with Lethal Weapon, but if he hadn't, nobody would ever have had a reason to give two farts about it, anyway.
- Charles Durning as the Governor of Texas in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which got him nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar. It helps that he has one of the funniest musical numbers in the movie, "Sidestep", where he celebrates his ability to dodge questions put to him by the press.
- Pinhead's brief yet ultimately memorable appearances in the first Hellraiser film counts as this. So much so that he went on to define the entire series. The original plan was to have Julia as the recurring villain, thus turning her into a rare female slasher villain. However, Pinhead's popularity caused the whole thing to be reworked.
- Graeme Garden has two scenes in the 1986 film version of Whoops Apocalypse, both as different (but identical) creaky old servants limping hurriedly down different (but identical) corridors to get to a telephone and complete a call (which they fail to do). It's one of the more memorable sequences in the film.
- Telly Savalas turns up close to the end of Horror Express and stops the story cold with his portrayal of swaggering, vodka-swilling Tsarist Captain Kazan. An aristocrat threatens to send him to Siberia, his reply is a bemused "I am in Siberia."
- Parodied in Wayne's World 2. When Wayne stops at a gas station to ask for directions to Gordon Street, the attendant starts to give a monologue about a "girl who lived on Gordon Street." A disgusted Wayne asks "Do we have to put up with this? I mean, I know it's a small part, but I think we can do better than this." The gas station attendant is led away and replaced by Charlton Heston, whose monologue reduces Wayne to tears.
- John Wayne as a Roman centurion at the end of The Greatest Story Ever Told, where, after Jesus is crucified, he says only one line: "Truly this man was the son of God."
- In Midnight Cowboy, Sylvia Miles' Cass has less than five minutes of screen time, but it was enough for Miles to win an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. John McGiver (Mr. O'Daniel) and Bernard Hughes (Towny) arguably fit this as well.
- Cedric The Entertainer does an excellent job of this in the first Barbershop movie.
- Meat Loaf and Ronnie James Dio, and Dave Grohl in Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, each get a scene dedicated to them; the former as Jack Black's father, who tears down all his posters while singing about how rock & roll is the Devil's music, and the latter as a poster of himself that comes to life afterward. Grohl provides the Big Bad. Tim Robbins also plays a crazy homeless man trying to rob the characters, but can't walk, and demands they come to him so he can stab them.
- The Wienie King in The Palm Beach Story. "Cold are the hands of time that creep along relentlessly, destroying slowly but without pity that which yesterday was young... That's hard to say with false teeth!"
- The movie The Loved One is basically a whole string of these, including scenes with James Coburn, Roddy McDowell, Milton Burle, and, most memorable by far, Liberace playing a coffin salesman.
- If '30s actress Mae Clarke is remembered today at all, it's for that one scene in The Public Enemy where James Cagney smashes the grapefruit in her face.
- Silent Bob's speech in Chasing Amy is so memorable, it's easy to forget that he and his hetero life mate Jay are only in one scene.
- Richard Harris as English Bob in Unforgiven, who just "shoots some pheasants, defends monarchy, gets beaten by Gene Hackman, gets arrested and then goes away" in across maybe 10 minutes of screentime. But it's a remarkable performance enough for "The
DukeDuck of Death" to be in the poster.
- Viola Davis in Doubt. A single scene, about ten minutes of screen time, and while she's onscreen she overshadows Meryl Streep. It got her nominated for an Oscar, and many believed she should have won it.
- It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World has a few busloads of well-known comic actors all loudly turned up to eleven...then in one scene, the camera pans past three firemen - The Three Stooges, standing still in quiet dignity.
- In the Loop is not short of great performances or funny material. Steve Coogan is in the movie for what must be a grand total of five minutes all up, and interacts with few of the main characters and none of the main plot. However, in those five minutes he easily manages to steal the movie as Paul, the easily frustrated constituent who just wants the U.K. Minister for International Development to do something about the wall of his constituency office (which is collapsing into Paul's mum's back garden) whilst said Minister is self-importantly but foolishly involving himself in grand matters of geo-political diplomacy.
- Pyramid Head in the Silent Hill movie. Two scenes, each lasting approximately thirty seconds, not a single line, and he's still one of the best parts.
- You Only Live Twice features Donald Pleasence as Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He's got a white cat, a bald head, and a scar. He's also one of the most memorable James Bond villains, parodied and referenced ad nauseam. Total screen time: Approximately ten minutes.
- Wholly Moses has a few of these, but the one that really stands out is John Ritter's one and half minute appearance as Satan.
- Jack Palance had a film career of 50 years and over 70 movies, but when he died in 2006, one film role consistently stood out in all the obituaries and tributes dedicated to him: the role of the taunting, smiling hired gun Jack Wilson in Shane. Palance's Wilson is widely regarded as the definitive Western bad guy. Total screen time: eight minutes. Total words spoken by Wilson: less than fifty, but he makes the most out of two of them: "Prove it."
- Holly Palance (Jack's daughter) had one memorable scene in the original The Omen as Damien's first nanny who is compelled by Satan to hang herself at Damien's birthday party. "Look at me, Damien! I'm doing it all for you!"
- Matthew Atherton, A.K.A Feedback, of Who Wants to Be a Superhero, with a total of two memorable minutes in the utterly forgettable monster movie Mega-Snake.
- Figwit, short for "Frodo is grea... who is that?" in The Fellowship of the Ring. Three seconds of screen time, but Bret McKenzie had such a large cult following that they even gave his character lines in Return of the King.
- In American Pie, then-unknown John Cho's one-scene appearance as the MILF guy. Not only did this scene popularize the term "MILF," Cho arguably went on to have the best career out of all the young actors in the film. It resulted in a movie roll being written just for him - the part of Harold in Harold and Kumar Go to Whitecastle.
- Judgement At Nuremberg features Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, and William Shatner. Every single one of them is at the top of their game... and then Montgomery Clift blows them all out of the water with a seven and a half minute performance that got him a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
- The Thor-Axine team (a trio of Viking themed drivers) during the first half of the Casa Cristo rally in Speed Racer. They fire a beehive out of a catapault. From a speeding racecar.
- Mel Brooks' High Anxiety has future big time director Barry Levinson as a high-strung bellboy who gets progressively more irritated with Brooks' requests for a newspaper until...no, it's too good to spoil.
- Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon's Vacation was only in the movie for a fairly small amount of time (they go to his house, have a BBQ, spend the night, then leave), but he was so funny and so popular they brought him back into a much bigger part for Christmas Vacation.
- Hector Barbossa managed to steal the final scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Fortunately he got a lot more screentime in the next film.
- Zombieland Bill Murray makes a completely out of left field cameo as himself that is one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. Amber Heard, also, as "406", Columbus' hot, blonde neighbor who unfortunately turns into a zombie and tries to kill him.
- A deleted scene in Fun with Dick and Jane features James Whitmore as an elderly ex-Marine, now employed as a security guard in a toy store in the profession of "kicking Jim Carrey's butt". It's quite possibly the funniest, most memorable scene not in the movie.
- Glen Coco in Mean Girls has gone memetic. He does not even have a line, but is mentioned in one of the most quoted lines of the film.
- Bronson Pinchot as Serge in the first Beverly Hills Cop movie.
- Gilbert Gottfried's character in Beverly Hills Cop 2.
- James Roday and Maggie Lawson in their 30-second cameo as news anchors in Gamer.
- Forest Whitaker as the genial pool hustler in The Color of Money.
- Denis Leary has a few brief scenes in Demolition Man as Edgar Friendly, where he basically does his own act for 5 minutes.
- It isn't her only scene, but Ann Miller's dance solo in Easter Parade steals the movie right out from under Fred Astaire and Judy Garland.
- Claude Rains as the slightly creepy, elderly millionaire Frederick Lannington in the 1950 film noir thriller Where Danger Lives. He can't be on screen for any more than five or ten minutes, but you'll remember him. He receives top billing alongside Robert Mitchum and Faith Domergue.
- In Revolutionary Road, Michael Shannon has two scenes, in both of which he's able to out-act Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and Kathy Bates completely by himself... earning a Best Supporting Actor nomination in the process.
- Eddie Izzard as Mr. Kite in Across the Universe. His Large Ham performance is definitely memorable, and provides some of the funniest lines in the movie ("Have you seen it? It's great. They've got stuff.")
- The nameless cigar-smoking mobster from Ninja Assassin. When your response to getting stabbed in the neck is to hold it with one and do a spinning close-fisted backhand to your would-be killer with the other, well, you will be memorable. The rest is just icing on the cake.
- Christopher Eccleston as a truth-spouting tramp in 24 Hour Party People.
- The three-breasted alien chick from Total Recall. Johnny-cab, as well. 'cab is on screen for a total of two minutes. In this time, he spouts chirpy nonsense, gets torn apart by Arnold Schwarzenegger, starts screaming and glowing, tries to kill Arnie by driving at full speed into him, misses him, and hits a wall and explodes. "Fasten your seatbelt!"
- Chevy Chase as the jacuzzi repairman in Hot Tub Time Machine. Appears four or five times throughout the movie, but never for more than a couple minutes before disappearing as suddenly as he came, and is easily one of the best parts.
- By all accounts, Emily Hampshire's role as the chatty, eccentric Vivienne at the beginning of Snow Cake is one of these moments.
- Eminem and Ray Romano (how about that for unlikely team-ups) completely steal the one scene of Funny People that they're in together.
- Pulp Fiction: Harvey Keitel has a small amount of screen-time, but a particularly memorable speech (the "'Please' would be nice" rant).
"Pretty please, with sugar on top, clean the fucking car."
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- A young Robert Duvall as the reclusive Arthur "Boo" Radley, his first movie role. He doesn't even so much as speak, but his appearance stays with you.
- A lesser known, but still powerful example, is Brock Peters as Tom Robinson, his one scene being the courtroom scene. He cried when filming the scene, something he had not rehearsed up to that point, which nearly caused Gregory Peck to cry as well.
- Another example from the courtroom scene: Collin Wilcox Paxton as Mayella Ewell. Her closing words when she breaks down in front of Atticus also leaves quite an impact.
- Carla Perez's thirty-second cameo as Rita Repulsa in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, with all the ham her presence implies, may be the best thing about it.
- Mathieu Amalric appears in the first and last scenes of Les Aventures Extraordinaires D'Adèle Blanc-Sec as the titular heroine's revolting arch-nemesis Dieuleveult, dressed entirely in a black trenchcoat, hat and sunglasses like a Gestapo officer, completely unrecognizable under a thick layer of makeup with rotten-looking false teeth and speaking with a wheezy voice, all in all resembling Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark. After stealing the scene with a wonderfully over-the-top creepy performance, his character is mummified alive and only seen at the end of the movie, observing Adèle embarking on the Titanic and ominously wishing her "bon voyage". This is made even more infuriating due to the fact that Dieuleveult is, as previously indicated, her arch-nemesis in the comics and yet has no other role in the plot other than failing to prevent her from stealing a mummy she hopes will bring her sister back to life. Needless to stay, the fans of the original comic were not pleased.
- American Gangster has Ruby Dee in an Academy Award nominated role as Frank Lucas' mother. She had less than 10 minutes of screen time.
- Jackie Earle Haley in Shutter Island. His one scene lasts maybe five minutes and he owns every second of it.
- Jackie Earle Haley as the "particularly dirty hippie" Dukes in Semi-Pro.
- Marlon Brando as Jor-El in Superman .
- Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared in The Rundown for about five seconds of screentime, enough to say exactly two words. His appearance is mentioned in just about every professional review of the movie listed on IMDb.
- In Toy Story 3, Mr.Pricklepants fits this trope perfectly. He doesn't really have much bearing on the plot and has very limited screen time, but regardless he sticks out as one of the best characters in the film. You can add all of Bonnie's toys, Buttercup, Trixie, Dolly, Chuckles! Chatter Telephone, if only for the fact he's a toy telephone Mysterious Informant with a Film Noir voice.
- Mr. Shark from Toy Story. "Look, I'm Woody! Howdy howdy howdy!"
- Bruce McGill in The Insider, as the lawyer who deposes Russell Crowe. "WIPE THAT SMIRK OFF YOUR FACE!"
- Peter Stormare. So. Many. Times. Constantine and Armageddon stand out, though in the latter case, he's a One-Scene Wonder stretched out over a significant part of the film and he is awesome every step of the way.
- Johnny Depp has two very brief scenes in the French film Ils se marient et eurent beaucoup des enfants (also known as Happily Ever After), one of which contains no dialogue (only some cute eye-flirting to the sounds of "Creep"), and then another scene at the end in which he--get this, ladies--speaks French, and then kisses the female lead in a dreamy, magical elevator ride, implying that her romantic life will turn all right after all.
- Klaus Kinski as the shackled forced labor prisoner in the train car in Doctor Zhivago.
- Inglourious Basterds.
- Navckid Keyd as Elder Mr. Dawes in Mary Poppins, once you realise who he is.
- Jon Lovitz has exactly one scene in The Wedding Singer as a rival wedding singer to the main character, but thanks to a single line of dialogue and a facial expression, it's a scene you'll remember:
He's losing his mind... and I'm reaping all the benefits!
- Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Expendables. They're in the movie for all of a few minutes, yet their presence is mentioned constantly in the advertising campaign - for good reason, as those two and Sylvester Stallone haven't worked together in movies before, and likely never will again. (at least, until the sequel)
- The Vegan Police, played by Thomas Jane and Clifton Collins Jr., in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. They have some truly hilarious lines, and make their exit with a slow-motion leaping high five.
Todd: "Gelato isn't vegan?"
- John Turturro in The Big Lebowski. Nobody fucks with the Jesus.
- Noah Cross does not appear in Chinatown until the movie is over halfway through. And he doesn't appear again until near the very end of the film. However, he is remembered as one of the most despicable villains in cinematic history. Roman Polanski's appearance as the man who cuts Jack Nicholson's nose with a knife also deserves a mention. It's probably the scene most people remember.
- Ralph Fiennes in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang. In his only scene, he helps set up the film's climax and in the process patches up things with his children and relatives.
- Peter Ustinov will steal any scene(s) he appears in:
- Gary Busey tends to do this in any film he isn't headlining.
- As a crazy psycho Vietnam War vet in Black Sheep opposite Chris Farley and David Spade (although it's two and not just one), and his 'stint' as a Heavy-like demon hunter in Succubus: Hell Bent, in which he gives quite possibly the least rousing morale boosting speech ever submitted to celluloid (he basically tells the kid he has no hope of winning and he should just let the succubus do what she wants because he'll only manage to piss her off worse), dumps a load of weird junk that actually seems to work on the hero, and then drives off to leave him to his fate.
- There's also his cameo as a very lonely highway patrolman in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
- Jon Hamm's appearance in The a Team is technically The Cameo, but may also fall under this because he comes out of nowhere (he wasn't mentioned in any of the promotional material) and is pretty darn awesome, despite being onscreen for only about two or three minutes.
- Meat Loaf turns up for a single song, arguably one of the best, in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, sings it, and then gets brutally hacked to death by Tim bloody Curry.
- The alien opera diva with the insane musical number in The Fifth Element.
- The Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth is probably the most talked about part of the film.
- John Barrowman appears in The Producers remake, only to sing Springtime For Hitler. The results are amazing.
- Liam Dunn made a specialty of these roles in comedies in the early 1970's. He's probably best known for playing the besieged minister Rev. Johnson in Blazing Saddles and as the abused patient Mr. Hilltop at the beginning of Young Frankenstein, but his crowing moment has to be as Judge Maxwell, who has to legally sort out the problems created by his daughter Judy (Barbra Streisand) in What's Up, Doc? He has less than ten minutes on screen, but his reactions to the story being told to him are priceless. Buck Henry's wonderful dialogue was a big help.
- Tron: Legacy
- Michael Sheen steals his scenes in New Moon, due to extensive use of Ham and Cheese.
- Grandpa Chapman in Silent Night, Deadly Night.
"You see Santa Claus tonight you better run boy, you better run for ya life!"
- Joan McCracken, who performs the show-stopping number ("Pass That Peace Pipe") in the Golden Age musical Good News, and has basically no other role in the rest of the movie. McCracken, who was a terrific dancer but only a moderately good singer, and who was quite plain-looking, especially by Hollywood standards, specialized in these kinds of roles.
- Gary Sinise as the reporter in The Green Mile. The scene is a powerful one in the book, illustrating perfectly why John Coffey was convicted, even through doubts that he actually did the crime, and Sinise certainly put his stamp on it. Despite being in that one scene, his obvious connections with Tom Hanks gave him a spot in the movie's trailer.
- About half the cast of Barton Fink, though most of them have about two scenes.
- Tony Shaloub as Ben Geisler. About two scenes and five minutes and he owns every second of them. "Well, tell Lipnick he can kiss my dimpled ass."
- Steve Buscemi as Chet, the wormy bellhop at the hotel.
- Mastrionotti and Deutch, the detectives that question Barton.
- Pete, the elevator operator who Barton asks if he's read the Bible. "Holy Bible? Yeah I think so. Anyway I've heard about it."
- Also from the Coen brothers' oeuvre, Shaloub's turn as Billy Bob Thornton's existentialist lawyer is arguably the single most memorable scene in The Man Who Wasn't There.
- Roscoe Lee Browne's enigmatic appearance as the cyborg Box in sci-fi thriller Logan's Run deserves mention here even though it might be more of a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
- Scorsese's under-appreciated mid-80s gem After Hours is rife with one off appearances and small recurring ones, but none more lustrous (or self contained) than Teri Garr and Verna Bloom.
- The psychotic neo-Nazi from Falling Down has one scene, and if it's not the best one in the movie, it's the one that caused the most laughter. Every line he spouts is caustic and vitriolic, and usually loaded with at least one slur, and five curses. The role could have been played spooky and subtle, but the actor instead decided that no scenery would go unchewed in his performance. If anyone quotes the movie, chances are good it'll be from that scene.
- Tommy Chong's only scene in Evil Bong is easily the best part of the movie, something the filmmakers seem to be aware of, considering that he's on the DVD box cover art.
- Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle has Jacklyn Smith reprising her role as Kelly Garret from the series.
- Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali in Midnight in Paris. His only scene turns out to be one of the funniest scenes in the film and he even got above-title billing on the posters with Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard.
- Wolverine shows up in one scene of X Men First Class. His appearance lasts maybe a minute, in which he says a grand total of three words. The scene is absolutely hilarious.
- Eric in Mystery Team. He has three rather short scenes, but steals every single one he's in. Jamie too, to a lesser extent.
- Rod "Torque" Redline from Cars 2. Too bad they blow him up.
- Dennis in Cabin Fever. He's in it for one scene, and that's the Signature Scene of the moment. He really wants pancakes, he can be mistaken for a girl, and he has some kickass fighting moves.
- The Pterodactyl who takes Aladar's egg to Lemur Island in Dinosaur.
- Rajat Barmecha as Shomu in an unusual Bollywood movie Shaitaan.
- Tiny Lister as the Scary Black Man convict on the ferry in The Dark Knight. He has less than three minutes of screentime, and just one brief monologue delivered in a hushed whisper...and does more to thwart the Joker than Batman and the entire Gotham City police force combined.
- Susan Backlinie deciding to go swimming at an unfortunate moment in the opening scenes of Jaws. Not only is the scene itself one of the most memorable in cinema, but the bit-player actress gives us one of the most heartstoppingly real depictions of terror and pain seen on screen.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean : On Stranger Tides, the Spaniard is teased throughout the movie, but only has one substantial scene at the climax. During that scene, however, he pretty much dominates everything with his blend of Anti-Villain, Wicked Cultured, Well-Intentioned Extremist and, of course, Badass Spaniard.
- Princess Aurora herself in Sleeping Beauty. She remains silent for most of the movie, with very few dialogue whatsoever, and the only time she ever opened her mouth completely is when she sang "I Wonder" and "Once Upon A Dream", respectively.
- John Ratzenberger as the swashbuckling repairman in House II: The Second Story.
- David Carradine as the hilarious Dirty Old Man Poon Dong in Crank 2: High Voltage.
- Alan C. Peterson as the Mayor in Sucker Punch. In his brief appearance, he steals the scene with his utterly badass pimpin' entrance and Leitmotif: a mash-up of "I Want It All" and "We Will Rock You".
- Rod Steiger's appearance as The Judge toward the end of The Hurricane definitely qualifies. "You assumed ... wrong."
- Liam Neeson as the writer who instructs Russel Crowe on prison escapes in The Next Three Days. So much they had to put him on the trailer.
- Mrs. Jumbo from Dumbo. Like her son, she actually remains silent throughout the entire film, with her only dialogue being when she says Dumbo's real name after he's been delivered to her by a stork.
- In Five Hundred Days of Summer, Chloe Moretz is this as Tom's little sister.
- Braindead: The priest who has had only a few unremarkable appearances shows up in the graveyard once the zombies start appearing and goes to town on the zombies in the most epic scene of the movie, ripping/kicking off limbs, throwing and beating up zombies with lines like "This calls for divine intervention" and "I kick ass for The Lord!"
- James Cagney reprising his role as George M. Cohan (which won him the Best Actor Oscar for Yankee Doodle Dandy) for the Bob Hope vehicle The Seven Little Foys. Cagney and Hope trade hilarious barbs for a couple minutes, then do an epic tap dance number together.
- Jim Jarmusch's Deadman has almost an entire cast of them. Crispin Glover as the philosophical but illiterate train fireman, Robert Mitchum (in his final role) as the shotgun-toting town boss, Iggy Pop as a crossdressing, bible-thumping psychopath, Billy Bob Thornton as a creepy mountain man, and Alfred Molina as the racist missionary.
- Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing movie, despite having a genuinely good, if rather hammy, cast (even Keanu Reeves is passable) is clearly dominated by Michael Keaton's Constable Dogberry.
- If you want a film that's utterly loaded with these, just watch Branagh's full-length version of Hamlet. The supporting cast (and roles) include Billy Crystal (Gravedigger), Robin Williams (Osric), Gerard Depardieu (Reynaldo), Charlton Heston (Player King), Rufus Sewell (Fortinbras), Richard Attenborough (English Ambassador) and Brian Blessed (King Hamlet's Ghost) all in absolutely perfect roles! There's also a cameo by John Gielgud and Judi Dench, and Derek Jacobi reprising his role as Clau-Clau-Claudius. Though he does get a rather prominent billing.
- The punk on the bus with the ghetto blaster in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
- The 1933 film Dinner at Eight alludes to this trope in-universe. One of the characters is a washed-up, alcoholic actor who learns he's been demoted from the lead in an upcoming play to a minor one-scene role. His agent persuades him to accept the smaller part on the grounds that he can make a bigger impression on the audience with his single scene.
- Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen has several underused-and-awesome characters. One of the more notable examples is Hood, the god of death.
- There is usually at least one scene in every Discworld book featuring Death (The Wee Free Men is one of the few books where he doesn't appear). Except in the book where he stars, these definitely count.
- Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, especially the film. Less so in other entries of the series, as he starts getting more time.
- Also Aunt Marge at the beginning of the third book.
- A Song of Ice and Fire
- Oberyn Martell quickly gained a legion of fans during his limited time in the series with his many witticisms and exotic background story. He continues to appear in flashbacks, perhaps as a result of this trope.
- Syrio Forel is also quite popular despite his limited time in the series, to the point that some fans still claim that he might still be alive, despite all signs pointing to the contrary. Just so.
- Archmaester Marwyn shows up in one scene (though he is mentioned a few times previously) to drop the bombshell that the maesters had a hand in the Targaryen dragons dying out, then he promptly hops on a ship heading east, to join up with Daenerys.
- Cortnay Penrose's only scene was also pretty awesome.
- Older Than Print: Mi Heng only appears in one chapter of the 2000+ page Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but is still one of the most memorable characters for his sheer balls in insulting every single person he meets, no matter how powerful they are. He ends up throwing out insults until the second his head is cut off.
- He was originally protected by his public reputation as a scholar, so the first target of his ire made him an envoy in hopes that he'd get killed by the recipient. The recipient, regional lord Liu Biao, figured out what was going on and instead passed Mi Heng off to a subordinate who had Mi Heng executed.
- In Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix, Nikolai Leng's Mechanist wife shows up in three of the tiny (around ten lines each) chapters of Twenty Evocations, a short story included in later editions.
- Merlin in The Warlord Chronicles. Doesn't have a lot of time directly interacting with the protagonist in the story, but every bit where he is doing so, it's damn memorable.
- Irene Adler only appears in one of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, but is considered almost as essential a character to include in adaptations as Holmes and Watson. Moriarty is also the quintessential nemesis for Holmes, despite only appearing in two stories.
- Technically, Moriarty never appears in the stories, since Watson never actually sees him (except possibly once through a train's window). All that Watson knows about Moriarty is what Holmes has told him in passing.
- Laurent in the Twilight saga had a considerable following in the early years of the fandom, even though he appeared only briefly in the first two novels. There was a ridiculous internet backdraft when the "olive" skinned French Laurent was portrayed by a black guy who was most definitely not French.
- Tom Bombadil in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings may be the one of the more vivid characters in the whole trilogy, but his relatively short sequence in The Fellowship of the Ring is so far removed from the action, that it was removed from both Peter Jackson's and Ralph Bakshi's cinematic adaptations.
- In Warrior Cats, Mapleshade has all of three scenes during her first appearance, and one in her second. She does nothing important, but fans still remember her for her epic and creepy lines and trying to drown Ivypool all while reminding Ivypool of Daisy.
- In The Dresden Files novel Small favor, Eldest Gruff at the very end of the book. He teleports in, stomps around the island and shaking the earth with every step, one-shots a Fallen Angel, chats up Harry, and then goes to get a donut.
- Stan Lee, the author of many a different Marvel comics, makes a Cameo in just about every single live-action movie adaption of his heroes, whether it be a plain old man, a few speaking lines, or sometimes even Leaning on the Fourth Wall by playing himself.
- Drew Carey gets a brief scene when his cab ride gets delayed in Coneheads, addressing himself as a decorated star to make sure all know this snafu is Serious Business.
Live Action TV
- Lord Flashheart in Blackadder, especially in the second series where he appears out of nowhere, goes through his monologue, and disappears again in less than two minutes of screen time, and totally runs away with the episode.And the girl. "Woof!"
"The men had a whip-round and got you this... well, what I mean is that I had the men roundly whipped until they got you this. It's a cigarillo case engraved with the regimental crest of two crossed dead Frenchmen, emblazoned on a mound-of-dead-Frenchmen motif."
- Tom Baker as Captain Rum. Arr...' (Although in the last two cases it's more of a One Episode Wonder.)
- Denis Lill as Sir Talbot Buxomley in Blackadder III episode "Dish and Dishonesty". He appears for about two minutes and dies at the end of his scene. But he is absolutely unforgettable.
- When The Colbert Report had a guitar solo challenge between Stephen Colbert and Chris Funk of The Decemberists, there were guest stars galore. However none of them could compare to the brief appearance via satellite by none other than Dr. Henry Kissinger.
Stephen Colbert: Dr. Kissinger, what time is it?
- Colbert said in an interview that they also wanted to lampshade the absurdity of having gotten Henry Kissinger to oversee a guitar-playing contest by having him say, "Where are my pancakes? I was promised pancakes." But he wouldn't, and according to Colbert, somewhere there exist several minutes of footage of him begging Kissinger to say the pancake line.
- John Legend and his nutmeg song in the Christmas special.
- The Daily Show had a recent Crowning Moment of Awesome involving Mick Foley defending a kid who supports gay rights.
- In the new Battlestar Galactica series, none of the Mauve Shirt Viper/Raptor pilots are more memorable then the "Tattooed Pilot" whose actually more of an extra since he plays no vital role and has only one speaking line in the entire series.
- Racetrack has a bit of a following too, despite never having actually had her own storyline, she's probably survived more raptor mishaps than Athena and Boomer put together, especially in later seasons.
- Jubal Early in Firefly, who only appeared in the last episode yet was perhaps the greatest part of an already great series.
- Jim Henson showing up in anything done with The Muppets is always special.
- Cyril Luckham (The White Guardian) of the "Key to Time" storyline in original Doctor Who. He does nothing but sit in a chair and set up the plot for the season in the first five minutes of the first episode, but eerily sticks in your mind.
"You mean nothing will happen to me?"
- The episode "Utopia" in the new series gets three of these. First is Derek Jacobi's wonderful performance as Professor Yana, surpassed by Derek Jacobi again in his two-minute-long appearance as the Master, which is surpassed again by John Simm's even briefer role as the Master (though the last one may not qualify, as Simm spends the subsequent two episodes being a legendary Magnificent Bastard).
- John Cleese's magnificent minute-long cameo toward the end of fan-favorite "City of Death". Exquisite.
- President Bartlett was originally supposed to be a One-Scene Wonder on The West Wing, but Martin Sheen was made of too much awesome, and got promoted to a member of the main cast.
- Specifically the show was meant to focus on the staff, with the distance to the president emphasized by having him appear perhaps once a month, so four or five times per season. If they didn't intend for him to overwhelm this restriction, they probably shouldn't have made his first line be "I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other gods before Me. ...Boy, those were the days."
- ...or cast Martin Sheen as the President.
- Roger Rees as Lord John Marbury isn't quite a One-Scene Wonder -- he was in five episodes over six years -- but you can't deny that he was disproportionately memorable in his few scenes as Loveable Rogue.
- Specifically the show was meant to focus on the staff, with the distance to the president emphasized by having him appear perhaps once a month, so four or five times per season. If they didn't intend for him to overwhelm this restriction, they probably shouldn't have made his first line be "I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other gods before Me. ...Boy, those were the days."
- 'Sebastian' on Babylon 5--only in one episode, arguably the most memorable character in the whole series. Even if he's remembered, not as a hero, not as a messenger, not even as Sebastian... but only as "Jack".
- To an extent, Bester as well. His first appearance was the standard "corrupt Earth official who comes to make Sinclair's life hell" that typified many Season 1 episode villains but Walter Koenig infused the role with so much fun energy and serious emotion you looked forward to those times he came back to plague the main cast. Notably, he was one of the few series villains who could regularly show up, have a hostile face-to-face dialogue with the protagonists, accomplish his goals and walk away scot-free at the end of the episode.
- Morden in his early appearances. He just oozes intrigue and menace, and he's only on screen for about five minutes.
- The Tudors: Peter O'Toole as the Pope Paul III only appears in some episodes, never interacts directly with the main cast (Being as he is in Rome all the time), and completely steals the show. Peter O'Toole should play the Pope in anything that has a Pope.
- Seth Green and Breckin Meyer in Heroes, as a pair of comic book store employees who have the "best day ever" when they briefly get to help one of their favorite characters.
- Brother Mouzone in The Wire only appeared in six episodes, most of them for just a few minutes, or seconds in the case of his introduction. An erudite, soft spoken, Harpers magazine reading, suit and bow tie wearing gentleman... who also happens to be one of the most feared and respected hitmen on the east coast, and whose popularity rivals some regulars.
- Comedy actor Guillermo Francella (without his trademark moustache) played the until then unseen Big Bad of Argentine telenovela Vidas Robadas: he appeared in three scenes in the last two episodes, and completely owned the show. To picture the impact of The Reveal, imagine: the Magnificent Bastard head of a human trafficking net is finally seen on camera - and it's a completely serious and creepy-looking, say, Adam Sandler.
- In the season one finale of Fringe the fact that Olivia was in a parallel universe where the Twin Towers are still standing was heavily overshadowed by the fact that she'd just met the mysterious William Bell, played by Leonard Nimoy.
- Nimoy as William Bell deserves some sort of minimalist record for this. He had two lines in the Season 1 finale, then showed up for less than a minute in a fragmented flashback to the same scene four episodes later, and then had another one-line cameo in the mid-season cliffhanger. Then, the character was conspicuously absent in the Whole-Episode Flashback "Peter", with a lame excuse about being away on business, and then Nimoy retired from acting after filming one more appearance for season 2.
- Ian McNiece as the Forum news reader in Rome is just grand.
- Danny Trejo on Breaking Bad as Tortuga, the cartel snitch. Technically in for two scenes, the second one being somewhat more memorable.
- Not exactly a One Scene Wonder, but in the fourth series of Jonathan Creek Adrian Edmondson turns up about once an episode and manages to steal every scene he's in as Carla's clueless, pretentious but strangely lovable producer/husband Brendan.
- Strangely lovable because he's so incredibly easygoing, not even blinking when Carla makes out with Jonathan (with full-on tongue action) right in front of him. Perhaps his best moment was admitting he'd once been married to a man in the US. But it was only a marriage of convenience! And they never had a co-production deal, because that would just be wrong.
- Also from Jonathan Creek is one of Adam Klaus girlfriends, who sweetly kisses him, gives him a kimono, and waves goodbye as she gets out of the car. That's it. She doesn't get a name, or a single line. However, the whole cameo becomes Hilarious in Hindsight considering the Chinese calligraphy on the kimono reads: "I am full of shit." Adam wears it around the theatre all day long before a theatre critic who speaks fluent Chinese tells him what it says and that the girl who give it to him definitely has his measure.
- Strangely lovable because he's so incredibly easygoing, not even blinking when Carla makes out with Jonathan (with full-on tongue action) right in front of him. Perhaps his best moment was admitting he'd once been married to a man in the US. But it was only a marriage of convenience! And they never had a co-production deal, because that would just be wrong.
- The Robert de Niro episode of Extras qualifies as this, since the sheer amazingness of having de Niro as one of the celebrity characters is lampshaded with a lot of gushing about how amazing it is that Andy is going to meet Robert de Niro, and then subverted when he decides not to. In the end he's only in the show for a minute, and spends that minute being inordinately amused by a novelty pornographic pen. Needless to say, it's one of the most memorable guest spots of the series.
- The George Michael scene from the Christmas special probably also qualifies. Although Michael is probably the biggest name in that show, he just wanders unexpectedly into the scene without any fanfare and not in his capacity as a celebrity, to deliver a hilarious performance centering on his own reputation for getting arrested for having sex in public places, which is simultaneously played straight (he drops by the "queer bench" in the park to ask if there's "any action") and subverted (he does this during his lunch break while on community service, which he's been sentenced to for... helping a fellow celebrity illegally dispose of a fridge-freezer).
- Patrick Stewart appears for a single scene, in which he explains a screenplay he's writing wherein he plays a Professor Xavier-type character who uses his powers to make women's clothes fall off.
- Dame Diana Rigg who is in two scenes. In the first she gets a condom flicked onto her head while she's eating soup, and instructs the perpetrator (Daniel Radcliffe!) on how to politely ask for it back again. In the second she wearily tells him to go away because he's been trying to hit on her all day).
- Alyson Hannigan as Trina Echolls on Veronica Mars might qualify. She shows up completely unexpectedly and completely dominates the intro scene with herself, Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring.
- And in a later episode she reunites with her Buffy the Vampire Slayer co-star Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) playing Kendall Casablancas. Trina runs into Kendall after she just spent a night with Trina's brother Logan and they have a fun, catty conversation.
- Both Friends and, more recently, Skins make a habit of doing this for the main characters' parents. Chandler's dad steals most of his scenes, Joey's mum likewise for her single appearance, and perhaps the most memorable scene that had Hugh Laurie lecturing Rachel on the plane to Britain; meanwhile Skins had cameos from Harry Enfield, Bill Bailey, Peter Capaldi, Arabella Weir, Josie Lawrence...
- Try to find a season of Criminal Minds that doesn't have at least one of these. The woman at the convenience store that grabs a shotgun in "Identity" is an example. The single-episode characters are usually so interesting that even the main actors have said in interviews that they wish they could guest star on their own show.
- Pretty much any show where Summer Glau ends up being cast as a bit character ends up with her stealing the spotlight in her scenes. A good example is the Angel episode "Waiting In The Wings."
- She appears As Herself on a train in The Big Bang Theory, where the characters come up and try to hit on her one at a time. Her reactions to their awkward advances are hilarious.
- In the Dollhouse episode "The Left Hand" (2x06), there is supposedly some other plot involving Echo and Senator Parrin, but it's hard to pay attention to that when you've got Summer Glau and Fran Kranz on the same screen together.
- She achieves this even more in the flashback episode. There's a plot going on somewhere, but it's totally unnoticed besides the fact that Eliza Dushku and Summer Glau are acting like lovers.
- Anyone who comes without previous warning in Saturday Night Live. In an episode hosted by Roseanne Barr, "Coffee Talk with Linda Richman", there was a sketch which frequently discussed Barbra Streisand, and already had a guest appearance by Madonna... then Babs herself appeared!
- One skit had an interview with Wilson the volleyball from Cast Away When the skit ended, Wilson said his ride was here and Tom Hanks casually walked onto the set. He didn't say anything, he just walked onset, stood there for two minutes waiting for the cheering to die down, picked up Wilson, and left. That is a One Scene Wonder.
- Another Tom Hanks example was his surprise appearance on Celebrity Jeopardy!. He wasn't hosting that night (Will Ferrell was), but he came on to be one of the contestants. To say he blew the scene out of the water might have been an understatement. From getting his hand stuck in a pickle jar to suffocating in a plastic bag to banging his head off of the podium and breaking it, let's just say SNL might need a new Jeopardy set; Tom Hanks is all done chewing it to bits.
- And this was Tom Hanks As Himself, as if he was somebody playing Tom Hanks in SNL's version of Celebrity Jeopardy.
- It is also a virtual certainty that if the show has any recurring feature that pokes fun at a specific actor or political figure the person being mocked will eventually show up in the middle of the feature and completely steal the scene. For example, one open had Tina Fey as Sarah Palin doing a press conference. In the middle of it, cut to back stage, where Lorne Michaels is talking to the real Sarah Palin about the skit...and then Alec Baldwin comes up and mistakes Palin for Fey.
- Prior to Palin's appearance, the most memorable example was probably the time Janet Reno showed up unannounced to take over a "Janet Reno Dance Party" sketch from Will Ferrell doing a Reno impersonation.
- Not exactly a one scene wonder, but Christopher Walken probably does deserve credit for managing to completely steal the show every time he hosts.
- When the real David Patterson appeared alongside Fred Armisen's impersonation. He criticizes the show for making fun of the blind...then proceeds to act the same as Armisen did
- A 1994 episode of The Late Show With David Letterman had Dave ask "Johnny Carson" to deliver the Top Ten list. Larry "Bud" Melman delivered it posing as him. Then Dave said there was something wrong and this wasn't the list and called for "Johnny" again...and out steps the real Johnny Carson, to nearly three minutes of continuous standing ovation. He sat in Dave's chair, and left without saying a word. This turned out to be Johnny's last television appearance.
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Conversations With Dead People features a very entertaining Warrior Therapist vampire who died at the very end of the episode. According to the DVD Commentary for the episode, Jonathan M. Woodward's performance as said vampire was such a scene stealer that he subsequently landed larger roles on Angel and Firefly.
- Then there's producer David Fury's 15-second appearance in the musical episode "Once More With Feeling", singing about the dry cleaner.
"They got the mustard... ouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut!"
- David Rees Snell, who played Ascended Extra Ronnie Gardocki on The Shield, played season four Big Bad Leon Drake, an evil Cobra Commander-type terrorist who was the Big Bad for the fourth and final season of The Unit. Despite appearing in only seven episode (with most of those episodes featuring him in one or two scenes, barking orders to his army of minions from his secret lair), David Snell's role is largely the only notable thing about the show in the eyes of fans of Shawn Ryan's other, more famous show The Shield.
- Sons of Anarchy had this in episode 2x12: despite featuring major advancement on most of the season's main storylines and one character's Crowning Moment of Awesome, most of the online chatter about the episode centered around former The Shield star Kenny Johnson's surprise cameo as an out-of-town member of the Sons of Anarchy biker gang summoned to help participate in a planned rumble with a rival Aryan gang.
- Several examples in Star Trek TOS: Lt. Riley, who appeared in only two episodes; T'Pau and T'Pring from "Amok Time"; Sarek and Amanda in Journey to Babel; the Romulan Commanders in "Balance of Terror" and "The Enterprise Incident"; Baalok from "The Corbomite Maneuver"; the Squire of Gothos; the Horta.
- A few examples in Star Trek TNG: Sonya Gomez, the famously bumbling junior engineer; Nick Locarno in "The First Duty" (so much so that they wanted to use that character in Voyager, but had to settle for just the actor); Robin Lefler (due to the fact that she was played by Ashley fricking' Judd); Commander Shelby in "The Best of Both Worlds"; Captain Jellico and Gul Madred (played by Ronny Cox and David Warner, respectively); etc.
- Jamie MacDonald is only in a handful of scenes in The Thick of It (he doesn't even get his last name until The Movie) but manages to be one of the most memorable characters in a show full of memorable characters.
- Mr. Flibble from Red Dwarf. A penguin hand-puppet, visibly played and voiced by one of the regular cast during the last scenes of a single episode, never to be seen or even mentioned in the show again... but he's one of the most popular supporting characters, almost to the point that you could consider him the show's mascot, and he's got his own section on the show's official website, where he acts as an interview host.
- Lister's friend Petersen, who has appeared in only two episodes ("The End" and "Stasis Leak") plus a few flashbacks in the first two series is nevertheless one of the most liked characters in the series. The fact he wasn't able to be brought back for Series 8 is a serious What Could Have Been for most fans.
- Supernatural has the fourth Horseman, Death, played by Julian Richings, who manages to exude pure awesome simply by being there, despite roughly six minutes of screen time.
- The Castle episode "Overkill" somehow manages to have two One Scene Wonders within ten minutes of each other, in the form of Stephen Full as Benny, a charmingly sleazy and hungover motel clerk, and Jennifer Hall as Rebecca, a weepy lab technician who's 'cry-talk' Beckett has to decipher.
- Drug dealer Vulcan Simmons appears in a three-minute scene in episode 3-13 "Knockdown" and isn't even guilty of the crime they believe he committed. He still manages to establish himself as a monster just by talking. See here.
- Whenever Charles Widmore is in an episode of Lost, he usually only has one scene, but that scene is always a killer.
- "The fact that she never received your sentiments is good for her, because as far as she's concerned you've forsaken her. And that's the way it's going to stay."
- "You creep into my bedroom in the dead of night, like a rat, and have the audacity to pretend that you're the victim?"
- "Walk with me, Desmond." (Cut to Desmond standing around awkwardly while Widmore uses a urinal)
- "One sip of [McCutcheon whiskey] is worth more than you can make in a month. What you are not, Mr. Hume, is worthy of drinking my whiskey. How can you ever be worthy of marrying my daughter?"
- To add further insult, a later episode reveals an entire glass of McCutcheon is only $125.
- His daughter Penny also qualifies. She shows up even less often than her dad, rarely has more than one or two scenes, but they're always important, and the intensity of her love for Desmond always shines through, so much so that she and Des are among the most popular couples in the entire show, despite their limited screen time together.
- "What boat?"
- Her Christmas Eve phone conversation with Desmond at the end of The Constant is one of the most popular scenes in the entire series!
- Her reunion with Des in the fourth season finale (her only scene in that two hour episode making it a literal example) is a is a ray of hope and happiness in an otherwise grim episode.
- A minor controversy erupted when the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences served up an extreme version of this in 2006, nominating Ellen Burstyn for an Emmy for her 14-second, 38-word cameo in the TV movie Mrs Harris.
- From the X Files, Maggie Scully (Scully's mom) has a surprisingly large fanbase, despite only appearing quite briefly in a handful of episodes. It probably has something to do with the fact that she's such a nice, reasonable, normal person, especially when you compare her to Mulder's family.
- And of course, she has to put up with a lot in the show, including her husband dying of a heart attack, her daughter being abducted by aliens and presumed dead, her other daughter being shot dead, and her son being a total douche.
- Similarly, Cassandra Spencer, played memorably by Veronica Cartwright, is so central to the show's mythos, it's hard to believe she's only in 4 episodes.
- Also, Peter Boyle as the one-off character Clyde Bruckman, in the episode Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose". One episode. Not an important episode. Not a character important to the myth arc. But he's one of the most memorable characters in the whole show, partly because it was one of the most highly-acclaimed episodes ever, and because...well... it's Peter Boyle.
- Brian Cox as Vesper Abaddon in Kings. A deposed tyrant, he has two scenes where he tries to make his captor, Silas, as vile as he is, and another where he speaks to The Hero, David, before he is to be executed. Scary as hell, incredibly complex, and has only a few minutes screentime.
- Merlin had the Fisher King, an ageless old king who has waited years for Merlin to arrive and release him from his eternal life. The actor infuses the character with so much gravitas and poignancy that he turns a single scene into a bona-fide Tear Jerker. The lighting and music only adds to the epic nature of the scene.
- Robin of Sherwood: Every fan talks about John Rhys-Davies' performance as King Richard. He was in exactly one episode: "The King's Fool".
- Dire Straits's "Money For Nothing" is well known for the background singing that Sting does in it. You know, "I want my emmmmmmmm teeeeeeee veeeeeeeeeee......." (in the same tune of "Don't Stand So Close To Me")
- Rockwell's hit "Somebody's Watching Me" featured Michael (notably in the chorus) and Jermaine Jackson.
- Tom Waits pitch-perfect turn as Tommy in Primus' "Tommy the Cat".
- Queen: David Bowie joining up for "Under Pressure". Steve Howe playing a relatively short (compared to Yes and Asia standards) flamenco guitar solo on "Innuendo", which has become a classic and one loads of people around the world try to learn and replicate (oddly appropriate given that Brian May asked Steve to do it because he couldn't manage it). Also, the half-minute operatic section on "'Bohemian Rhapsody" is arguably one of the first things people recall about Queen in spite of being very different to 99% of things the band did before or since.
- On the Frank Zappa album Broadway the Hard Way, Sting comes on halfway through and performs "Murder by Numbers".
- "Weird Al" Yankovic did his pastiche of Zappa, "Genius in France," for the album Poodle Hat, who did he get to provide solos satisfactorily remiscent of Frank's? Dweezil. Return Of The Son Of Frank Zappa.
- 80's pop singer Tiffany had a surprise guest appearance by rapper Krayzie Bone on the song "I'm Not Sleeping," on her 2001 "come back album" Color Of Silence.
- Slash's guitar solos on TLC's "Red Light Special" song.
- Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's guest appearance on Mariah Carey's Butterfly album, the most jarring however being ODB on her previous record.
- Anytime two highly acclaimed rappers team up, and make a legendary memorable collaboration.
- Bone appearing on Biggie's "Notorious Thugs" track, which is considered a classic.
- 2pac appearing on Bone's "Thug Luv" track months after he died.
- Phil Collins showing up in Bone's music video for "Home".
- Nas and AZ appearing together on the track "Life's A Bitch" on the classic Illmatic album
- Jay-Z on Biggie's "I Love The Dough" song from his Life After Death cd.
- Eminem on Jay-Z's "Renagade" track from The Blueprint. Nas mentions this on "Ether"' ("Eminem murdered you on your own shit")
- Eminem on Lil' Wayne's "Drop the World". It's the only redeeming part of Rebirth.
- This article explores the phenomenon in more detail.
- Mariah Carey doing back up vocals for Babyface on a track called "Every time I Close My Eyes"
- Jamie Foxx's video for "Blame It" has scores of celeb appearances. Ashley Scott from Jericho, Ron Howard, Forest Whitaker, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Quincy Jones, Cedric the Entertainer, Morris Chestnut, Clifton Powell, Alex Thomas, De Ray Davis, Joe (R&B singer), Mos Def, Tatyana Ali, Jalen Rose, Bill Bellamy, Electrik Red, Dawn Richard, Keshia Knight Pulliam and Le Toya.
- Eddie Van Halen providing the guitar solo for Michael Jackson's "Beat It".
- Vincent Price for the closing speech, and the laugh, in "Thriller".
- Avantasia: Roy Khan on "Twisted Mind" from The Scarecrow, Klaus Meine on "Dying for an Angel" from The Wicked Symphony.
- Clare Torry's wordless wails on Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky," on The Dark Side of the Moon. On an album that is completely full of awesome, she is possibly the most awesomest part of it.
- Eric Clapton's guitar solo on The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", and in turn, George Harrison's rhythm guitar playing on Cream's "Badge".
- In turn, Elton John plays piano, organ and sings backing vocals on "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" by John Lennon, and John playing guitar and singing backing vocals on Elton's cover of The Beatles' "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" They made a bet that if both got to number one, they would appear in concert together, which came true in 1974, when Lennon appeared onstage at an Elton show in Madison Square Garden to sing both songs and "I Saw Her Standing There". It would prove to be Lennon's last public concert performance.
- Blake Shelton in Cady Groves "This Little Girl" music video. He plays a towtruck driver who tows Cady's car while she is still inside it.
- Ian Knutson wrote less than 1/4 of "Religion Song (Put Away The Gun)" by Everything Else.
- In the Ian McKellen/Judi Dench version of Shakespeare's Macbeth, Ian McDiarmid completely steals the show with his Porter Speech. Shakespeare originally wrote the character for this type of performance.
- The Ghost of King Hamlet is often done this way. Some reports suggest that the role was originally played by Shakey himself.
- The First Gravedigger (or "Clown") in Hamlet was written this way because Shakespeare may have been trying to showcase his best comedic actor going head-to-head with his best dramatic actor.
- The First Servant from King Lear appeared in only one scene just long enough to defend Gloucester and get killed, but has been called one of Shakespeare's most noble characters, and even has a poem written about him.
- Richard Henry Lee's biggest contribution to American independence was proposing it to the continental congress, before he had to leave. This means the character based on him in 1776 had a small role. Nonetheless, his character and song "The Lees of Old Virginia" were memorable enough to win a Tony for actor Ron Holgate.
- Brian "Le Petit" Dewhurst, of Cirque Du Soleil's Mystere, has only two setpieces in the show, plus a short blackout skit in between. As one of those is the preshow/opening announcements, this Non-Ironic Clown has only one setpiece within the show itself, near the end. (Usually in Cirque a clown gets at least two in-show setpieces and often the preshow as well; Brian's role is smaller because one of the lead characters overlaps with a clown act.) His character is a Screwy Squirrel who isn't "actually" part of the story and rarely appears in advertisements for it. He is also a Cool Old Guy (in both the show and Real Life) who just about steals the show by being so distinctively funny.
- In M. Butterfly, there is a two-scene sequence when one of the main characters picks up a debutante at an embassy party. In the second scene -- which takes place the "morning after" their tryst -- the debutante casually tells him "you have a nice weenie." When she sees he's uncomfortable with that particular pet name for a penis, she launches into a COMPLETELY HYSTERICAL monologue which distills the entire history of Western Civilization down into a dick-measuring contest, and then she walks offstage and is never seen again.
- There are a number of instances of this in musical theatre: characters who come on for one quick scene which either contains or consists entirely of one big show-stopping number, and then never appear outside of the ensemble for the rest of the show.
- The unnamed girl in West Side Story who appears in the middle of the Dream Ballet to sing "Somewhere."
- Berthe in Pippin is one of the most classic examples of this.
- Grandma in Billy Elliot is a very popular recent instance.
- The Young Soldier in Parade is considered by some to be one of the best roles in the show, despite being onstage for only the first three minutes, and even that is only the first half of the first song.
- As established by original Broadway production precedent, The Young Soldier is often doubled with another small role, Fiddlin' John.
- An argument could be made that the Proprietor in Assassins fits this trope.
- Jonathan Freeman got himself a Tony nomination for playing the Headwaiter in She Loves Me. Enough said.
- Eddie in The Rocky Horror Show.
- Richard Henry Lee from 1776 would not technically qualify, due to having a little more to do than just that one scene and number. The embodiment of this trope, however, is Martha Jefferson. An actress who played Martha in a local production put it something like this: "I get to go on, make out with a handsome man for a little while, have a cute little scene, belt out a show-stopping song and chill backstage the whole rest of the time. That's a great gig."
- Also noteworthy is the courier, who runs on and offstage every once in a while to deliver missives, but only has anything substantial to do during the (surprisingly low-key) final scene/song of Act One, "Momma, Look Sharp".
- The Teen Angel in Grease. In Broadway and touring productions, Stunt Casting is often used for this role (the 2009 U.S. tour cast Taylor Hicks from American Idol, for example); Frankie Avalon played him in the movie version.
- King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar.
- Speaking of Herod, the appearance of Herod (not the same as Herod I) in The Passion of the Christ was one hell of a scene stealer, if only for how outrageously over-the-top the character and his little Egyptian mini-harem was.
- In Show Boat, Joe does very little except sing "Ol' Man River" at the end of the first scene. (One advertisement for the original production bills his actor only as the singer of "Ol' Man River," while crediting the other featured players by their characters' names.) He actually also appears in a few later scenes, but those are mostly excuses for him to reprise the song. When Paul Robeson played Joe in the 1936 film version, an extra song was written for him.
- Nimue in Camelot. May appear onstage or sing her one song from the wings, depending on the production.
- The trio of strippers in Gypsy who explain to Louise why "You Gotta Get A Gimmick."
- Daddy Brubeck and the other "Rhythm of Life" Church members in Sweet Charity. Also doubles as an Irrelevant Act Opener.
- Steve in Paint Your Wagon. He does nothing at all, except sing the show's big hit song.
- The title role in The Mikado. He has the top billing in the show, yet he's only in three songs in Act 2.
- Don Attilio in the "Il Muto" scene from The Phantom of the Opera basically exists just for the atmosphere, yet he often nets one of the biggest laughs in the show by holding a very long, very low note at the end of one of his recitatives. (Note that the actor in this role usually doubles on one or two other minor parts as well.)
- And then in the movie, they have the nerve to change it to Piangi playing the part. And Piangi being a tenor, kiss that low note goodbye.
- The Phantom himself to an extent. Despite being the most complex and interesting character in the musical by a huge margin--not to mention being the titular character, he's only onstage for about forty minutes of its two-and-a-half hour running time. Of course, his seemingly supernatural abilities and established Scooby-Doo Hoax help him retain an invisible yet palpable presence throughout the entire production.
- Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. One scene, one song, a solo spot in the curtain call with usually the most applause of anyone in the cast.
- Usually the role is doubled with Potiphar (who only appears in act one). Of course to do this, an actor has to do an English Music Hall Song, and then do Elvis (that's pretty awesome).
- Still on Andrew Lloyd Webber territory: the evicted mistress of Juan Peron in Evita, which does nothing but being insulted by Eva, sing "Another suitcase in another hall" (which was designed from the start to be a show-stopping ballad) and leave. The level of dissonance between the importance of the character and the success of the song is such, that for the movie version the poor girl has to make do with singing two lines from the chorus and the song is retconned into being sung in full earlier by Madonna in the title role.
- Follies is full of these: Stella and "Who's that Woman", Heidi and "One More Kiss", Hattie and "Broadway Baby", but above all, Carlotta with "I'm Still Here". Yvonne De Carlo was the original Carlotta, and frequently the most famous star in a Follies cast will be the Carlotta.
- Evil Dead The Musical features the character of Ed, who is constantly interrupted, and only gets in one or two words at a time until the number "Bit Part Demon" outside of this, however, Ed is indeed, a glorified extra.
- The Cradle Will Rock, a Mark Blitzstein musical, has Ella Hammer, the sister of a worker who died in the steel factory, sing only one song, and hers is the song everyone is talking about as they're leaving the theatre.
- Melba has really one purpose in Pal Joey: to appear in a scene which ends with her singing (and sort of stripping to) "Zip!" This was a small enough part that Elaine Stritch could be playing it in New Hampshire and simultaneously be on call as Ethel Merman's understudy in another show on Broadway.
- The priest in Man of La Mancha gets one of the best songs, "To Each His Dulcinea", and then fades back into the crowd of inmates/actors. He's also usually played by a very crazy, mute inmate.
- Likewise, the prostitute Saraghina in Nine doesn't have much to do but gets to sing "Be Italian," by far the most memorable number in the show..
- In the film version, this role was brilliantly given to Fergie from the Black-Eyed Peas.
- The irrelevant comic relief characters Dick and Mae appear twice in Street Scene, but their second appearance hardly counts. Their first appearance was not so interesting in the original play, which didn't give them the show-stopping number "Moon-Faced, Starry-Eyed."
- The character Marge MacDougall from the musical Promises, Promises is introduced near the beginning of the second act, gets one duet with the male lead, has almost no importance plot-wise, and exits the story almost as abruptly as she came in, never to be heard from again. However, the character is so popular that both of the actresses who potrayed her on Broadway won Tony Awards for Best Featured (Supporting) Actress.
- Do you like my owl?
- Mama from Memphis may qualify for her showstopping "Change Don't Come Easy" song. Though she is a frequent character and sings more than once, "Change Don't Come Easy" particularly stands out.
- Herbert in Tanz der Vampire. He has one line in the first act, appears wordlessly (except for some singing over a backing chorus) in the second scene of the second act, proceeds to have a showcase song/scene full of Ho Yay with the hero that is generally regarded as one of the funniest (or sexiest, if you like that sort of thing) parts of the whole show a few scenes later, and then is demoted to harmonizing on two lines with his father at the ball and with Magda in the finale, and yet he is probably at least the second- if not THE- most popular character in the show, with one reviewer commenting that it's hard not to squee when he shows up, even if you don't like the actor playing him. The actor doesn't even double in the ensemble scenes before Herbert's entrance.
- Vindication: This article- from the producers of the show- calls Herbert Tanz's "arguably the most popular figure".
- Harvey Johnson, the nerdy kid from the opening number of Bye Bye Birdie, is easily the most memorable character from the whole play, despite having about three lines.
- The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has the moment where JESUS himself comes down to give advice to one of the children in their time of need.
- Pretty much any of the numbers from Cats count, with the exception of those involving Grizzabella.
- Rusty Charlie in Guys and Dolls. He seems to be stuffed into the opening song with Benny and Nicely only then to disappear and not have any lines or songs the rest of the show.
- Big Julie. He's basically there to steal the entire sewer craps game scene out from under Sky and Nathan - and succeeds, depending on how good your Sky's "Luck Be a Lady" is.
- The Weighted Companion Cube from Portal is one of the game's most famous icons and is prominent in the game's merchandise, as well as a popular subject in fan art. The companion cube does not speak or move or threaten to stab you and only appears in a single level of the game, but is much more well known than the protagonist Chell. Hell, he even got a trope named after him.
- The defective personality cores in the last act of Portal 2.
- "Spacespacespacespace! Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!"
- "Y'know what I hope is in space? Fire. I hope you go to space, and you catch on fire."
- "The probability of you dying violently in the next 5 minutes is 87.61%."
- The defective personality cores in the last act of Portal 2.
- Patrick Stewart in The Elder Scrolls Oblivion. Apart from his opening cutscene voiceover, he had maybe 10 minutes of screen time as the Emperor before being killed. Sean Bean gets about 30.
- On a similar note, Liam Neeson lends his voice talent to the main character's father in Fallout 3. Although most of the main quest centers around your father, he only appears in the very beginning of the game and for a brief period in the third act. Tragic, really.
- Also, Malcolm Mc Dowell's performance as President Eden is brief but brilliant, and it wouldn't Fallout without Ron Perlman's intro: "War. War never changes."
- Harold, the mutant from the previous two games who had a plant sprouting out of his head by the second, makes an appearance for a sidequest in the third, the plant on his head turning into a full-blown tree with Harold stuck inside.
- Sergeant Dornan in Fallout 2, one of the most memorable NPC's despite being little more than an extra. Despite his relative insignifance to the plot (you can rather easily bypass him at camp Navarro), the Sarge's got a "talking head" and voice acting which must be heard to be believed.
- The Kuribo's Shoe from Super Mario Bros. 3 only appears in ONE level from ONE game of the entire Mario franchise!! It might be more popular than Luigi!! Goodness sake.
- In Mass Effect, Peter Jessup voices Sovereign for one scene, yet manages to freak out the entire fan community with a single, all-encompassing Badass Boast on behalf of the Reapers;
Sovereign: YOU EXIST BECAUSE WE ALLOW IT. AND YOU WILL END BECAUSE WE DEMAND IT.
- Two scenes.
"I AM SOVEREIGN. AND THIS STATION IS MINE."
- In one the second scene he fights off the Coucil and Alliance fleets, and nearly annihilates both of them before finally being destroyed himself showing just how powerful one Reaper is. It wasn't even trying to fight back until the end.
- Mass Effect is packed with these, many of them turians. There's Lii, the mechanic on Noveria with the awesome Jersey accent, the drunken and bombastic General Septimus, and the smooth and cultured office politician Lorik Q'uinn.
- Mass Effect 2 gives the other council races time to shine. Matriarch Aethyta for example only affects one short sidequest and the conversation options with her never change. But as those conversation options show, she's seen it all in her thousand year life, and she's has no qualms about sharing it. The cool old ladies don't get much cooler, or older.
"I saw a krogan drink a liquified turian on a dare six or seven centuries back. Nobody came out of that one looking pretty."
- Niftu Cal. "I am a biotic god! I think things and they happen! Fear me, lesser creatures, for I am biotics made flesh!"
- One of them doesn't even get screentime. He's only in two commericals on Illium:
Announcer: The Council thought that Blasto, the first hanar Spectre, would play by the rules.
- A slightly more traditional example from Mass Effect 2 is Adam Baldwin's brief appearance as Kal'Reegar, a quarian commando with a rocket launcher. Despite only appearing in two places, he's gained a huge fan following. (and spawned a lot of Kal/Tali shippers...)
- The Sergeant drilling two privates on space combat at the Citadel entrance in number 2. "Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest sonofabitch in space!" indeed, sir.
- Refund Guy, who has tried getting his money back for the two years that separate the first two games. Will he get his money back in Mass Effect 3 before the reapers destroy everything?
- Yes, if Shepard supports him. It's for a 15 credit Toaster Oven.
- How can we forget Khalisah al-Juliani? The paparazzi reporter that Renegade!Shepard has a running gag of punching out?
- Harbinger in Mass Effect 3. Though mentioned occasionally, he shows up only once in the entire game at the very end. He has no lines. Only Beam Spam.
- Lancer in Fate/stay night. He is the first enemy encountered in the game's introduction and does little but fight with Archer and all but kill Shirou, after which he spends most of the time in the background . He only gets a bit of spotlight in Unlimited Blade Works when he helps Rin and Shirou by defeating Archer, rescues Rin and kills Kotomine and scares off Shinji all while missing his heart. Oh, and inadvertently saving Shirou post-humously by making Gilgamesh sooty. Outside of that he's basically the poster boy for The Worf Effect, being killed off by the The Dragon in the other two routes. Yet he's almost as GAR as Archer for the fandom.
- In World of Warcraft there are a very few high-ranking NPCs that get an occasional memorable scripted scene.
- In Wrath of the Lich King, when Tirion Fordring appears for any significant speaking role, it's usually worth waiting and watching.
- Large Ham or not, the ex-Death Knight, Thassarian, easily steals the spotlight of any questline in which he is involved.
- Grand Apothecary Putress. He sends low-level players out on some really shady quests and then you don't hear from him for 40 levels. At level 75, though, he re-emerges at Wrathgate - crashing a war between Horde/Alliance and the Scourge - with a fucking vengeance.
"Did you think we had forgotten? Did you think we had forgiven? Behold, now the terrible vengeance of the Forsaken! Death to the Scourge, and DEATH TO THE LIVING!
- And then did that sterling dead man own seventy shades of bejeezus out of the Horde, the Alliance and the Scourge - Including Bolvar 'Dragon Puncher' Fordragon, Saurfang Jr. and the eponymous Lich King, fucking Arthas himself. Many players - particularly Undead players - would have sworn allegiance to that man on the spot.
- Although technically a One Level Wonder, Father Grigori in Half Life 2, who like most examples achieves this with his first line. "You have already met my, hehe, 'congregation'."
- John Cleese appears as an NPC in a single quest in Jade Empire. With a name like Sir Roderick Ponce Von Fontlebottom the Magnificent Bastard, and being voiced by John freaking Cleese, it's not surprising that he's easily one of the most memorable characters in the game.
- Also, in his first appearance he BLASTS A ENEMY FIGHTER WHEN THIS WAS PREPARING TO FIGHT HIM.
- And if you beat him you can claim his musket as a reward. And run around through fantasy Imperial China blasting people with a musket.
- Captain MacMillan from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is extremely popular within the fandom and has achieved a Memetic Badass status despite only appearing in two levels.
- Mike the helicopter pilot in Resident Evil 4. Notable for blowing shit up as the only backup you'll ever recieve in the game, and promptly getting shot down as soon as the one level is finished. Players also remember him because Leon shows far more pathos over Mike's death than even the two police officers he traveled with at the beginning of the game.
- The bug-like sentry turrets in Doom 3 are only seen in action at one small portion of the game, but their presence gives the player an immense relief. They sport a bright headlight and a machine gun, and will quickly locate and kill any hidden enemies while spouting a series of agitated beeps and clicks. Arguably, they could be the only characters in the game the player may feel an emotional connection to.
- It also begs the question that if the station had access to such effective weaponry then how did the demons ever successfully invade in the first place?
- The Green Biker Dude from the Megaman X2 intro. On screen for barely 5 seconds, and he's still one of the most memorable X series characters.
- Fire Emblem has so, so many; minor bosses who are only in one stage tend to be among the most beloved in the fanbase. This includes the likes of Batta the Beast, Glass, Denning, Gheb, and Oliver, the last of which was popular enough that he returned in the next game as a recruitable unit. There's also the 3-13 Archer, a nameless allied NPC from Radiant Dawn, who is often considered one of the greatest units in the game. However, one of the most major examples is Dheginsea, the Black Dragon King, who is one of the world's most powerful beings and plays an essential role in the backstory of the Tellius games... he appears three times between the two games.
- To be fair, the third time was as the third-to-last boss. And probably harder than the final two to boot.
- Battle Garegga has the bonus flamingoes that you can trigger on Stage 2 and attack for masses of extra points. Because points give you extra lives, and extra lives (or rather, the suicide of) are necessary to keep the game's Dynamic Difficulty under control, the flamingoes are very popular amongst fans.
- Riordan, in Dragon Age: Origins is something of one. His debut? He snaps the neck of the man keeping watch over him, whom you have distracted for about two seconds, and then introduces himself with a bow, seeming quite pleased to meet you, with a warm-yet-badass voice. He also reveals he knew Duncan, your Obi-Wan. Later, he gives you information and allows you to get some powerful items for free. After that, he shows he's not just another BadAss in a game full of badasses, but also knows how to keep his eye on the ball. The next time he appears, he makes The Reveal of why the Grey Wardens aren't just useful, but necessary. And then he gets possibly the most amazing send-off of any character, minor or major, in any video game ever.
- A minor Carta thug in Orzammar has a performance so over the top when you beat him, you'll want to bring him along for the rest of the game.
- The pirate queen Isabela's only major scene happens when you visit Denerim's brothel for the first time, and she'll teach the Duelist specialization for Rogues if you beat her at a rigged game of cards...or if you have sex with her, which can become a three- or foursome depending on your companions. Her character was so popular (mostly due to players wondering how to get the foursome, or have an all-girl threesome), that she was brought back in Dragon Age II as a full party member and possible love interest - as promiscuous, morally suspect, and far more pirate-y than ever, and a bottomless well of Double Entendres and horrible puns.
- David Hasselhoff as the American Vice President in Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3
- Poseidon in God of War 3. All of the other gods have at least one other appearance in the game, but Poseidon only shows up during Kratos and the Titans' siege of Mount Olympus due to being killed during it. But boy, is his role in that part memorable.
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link: "I AM ERROR." A short appearance and name that seemed the result of a glitch or poor translation endeared Error to the fans forever.
- Golden Sun fandom is largely convinced that Rief's sister Nowell from Dark Dawn will return as a player character in the next game. All we know about her presently is that she doesn't like her little brother getting into danger, and that she does like Captain Piers enough to go for an unplanned joyride with him.
- An even better example from the same game would be Himi, who is barely a player character-- she joins the party at the last possible second and as a result has literally NO character development whatsoever (even by Golden Sun's notoriously low standards), but easily rivals Amiti and Sveta in sheer popularity with the fandom.
- In The Legend of Zelda CDI Games several minor characters are immensely popular like Morshu who only has two scenes.
- Inverted in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. The game's Big Bad, Jasper Batt Jr. doesn't appear until the very end of the game, but despite that has become a Scrappy character infamous even amongst people that haven't played the game due many planners finding him annoying, pretending to kill most of the cast, and the boss fight with him not being especially cool or fun, and for being That One Boss.
- Father Balder in Bayonetta is heard in voice, but doesn't appear on screen till the end of the game, but easily steals the show when he does due to his Badassery and crossing the Moral Event Horizon.
- Many of the psychopaths from Dead Rising and Especially Dead Rising 2 are these due to only having two cutscenes each to get their characterization from. The big ones though are probably the STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE manager from the 1st game and Brandon and Slappy from the second.
- There's exactly one playable Pandaren in the whole Warcraft series (so far), he's an optional character in a campaign that you don't even need to play in a regular playtrough, he became so popular that Blizzard have been teasing WoW players with making Pandaren a playable race since the early stages, they will finally get their own expansion (they included the race's name in the title of the expansion). Oh, and the character wasn't even planed to be included in the game, one of the designers made a concept artwork as an april's fool joke.
- Kingdom Hearts 3D has one that seemed to exist solely for the trailers, and lasted for all but two seconds. Oh, hi there, Vanitas. Oh, bye, Vanitas!
- From Misfile Doris.
- Especially memorable as the three characters who are not Doris are all ANGELS. The one who explicit admits to being scared of her, and that Doris has far worse in store for the girl (Who is related to Satan), is an Angel of Vengeance.
- In A Very Potter Musical, Molly Weasley and Rumbleroar are each in only one scene, but no one is likely to forget either of them.
- Ma-Ti (from Captain Planet) gets this honor in Kickassia for showing up in one scene of it and calling The Nostalgia Critic out on his douchebaggery.
- Survival of the Fittest. Kenny the Bear. That is all.
- Michael Keaton would greatly improve 87% of movies by simply appearing according to this The Onion article
- In Suburban Knights, a girl using a cellphone who the villain stumbles upon and kills got quite some attention from the fandom, ever since her one second appearance in the trailer. The director/star even discusses her on the DVD Commentary (she is played by an ex-girlfriend of his).
- Earl of Lemongrab from Adventure Time has turned out to be this. He only had about six total minutes of screen time, and only appeared in one episode (so far,) yet he stole the show in his singular episode. There is a small, but exceedingly loud (no surprise,) group of Adventure Time fans who wholeheartedly sympathize with Lemongrab's plight, and want him back in the series as a reoccuring minor character.
- Miss Kitty from Disney's The Great Mouse Detective. She's in the show for only one song, but... well, it's a very memorable one, and judging by the amount of fan material about her, quite a few people remembered as the most exciting part of the movie. Also, she has the ever-sexy voice of Melissa Manchester.
- Peggy Lee as Peg the dog in Lady and the Tramp. Peg has just the one song, He's a Tramp. But what a song! As Lee co-wrote all the songs and also voiced the Siamese Cats and Darling (Lady's owner) - and they get songs too despite little screen time - it's like several Wonders for the price of one.
- Another example from Disney is the snake Kaa from The Jungle Book who tries to hypnotize Mowgli and fails. He is only in the film for two scenes (he was actually going to be in just one in development, but his popularity with some test audiences gained him another one.) The voice is by Sterling Holloway, of all people. He did the voice of Winnie the Pooh, which is part of the reason why he's so funny.
- Also, King Louie, who literattely just has one scene (and musical number), but is very fondly remembered as a highlight of the movie.
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers has plenty of one-episode wonders. Foxglove, the bat from "Good Times, Bat Times", appeared in only this one episode, but she seems to be part of a Fanfic cast more often than not, she might have more fans than Monterey Jack, and she has even got a website dedicated to her. Tammy, the squirrelmaid from "Adventures in Squirrelsitting", comes in second. There are several more, including the lab rat Sparky from "Does Pavlov Ring a Bell", Gadget's Evil Twin Lahwhinie from "Gadget Goes Hawaiian", and Geegaw Hackwrench (who never even appeared on-screen, apart from a portrait in "To the Rescue" part 3). Unlike the others, Foxglove has gone on to make regular appearances in the 2010 CDRR comic series produced by Boom Studios.
- Speaking of Chip and Dale, there was one short named "Two Chips and a Miss", in which a character named Clarice fills in the role of Chip and Dale's girlfriend. This was her only appearance, and yet she has a HUGE popularity (even appearing in Disney Parks for some reason), especially in Japan. Who knew that a one appearance character would cause THIS much popularity?
- Hank Scorpio only appeared in one episode of The Simpsons, but is a truly memorable Dangerously Genre Savvy James Bond villain parody who is also an excellent example of an Affably Evil character.
- Such was his popularity that he was initially considered to be the main villain for The Movie. The plan was canned as the writers didn't want to use a villain from an episode over a decade old. His voice actor (The ever awesome Al Brooks) was kept to voice the final villain, who still shares many quirks worthy of Scorpio.
- Frank Grimes was only in one episode too -- he died. He's mentioned in many others, with a Running Gag where Homer forgets that he's dead, and his son (Frank Grimes, Jr.) is a villain in another episode.
- The shotgun wielding nurse in the Flying Hellfish episode;
THE RESIDENTS-BANG-ARE TRYING-BANG-TO NAP!-BANG
- The inhabitants of the Neutral Planet appear in only one episode of Futurama, but their "neutral humor" was a particular favorite of the fans and producer David X. Cohen.
Neutral President: If I don't survive, tell my wife "hello."
- "That Guy" (The 80s Guy) only appears in the episode "Future Stock", but is still revered for his 80s style.
That Guy: There are two kinds of people: sheep and sharks. Anyone who is a sheep is fired. Who is a sheep?
- The Greedy, a sentient giant lake of taffy and candies who keeps eating himself, in Raggedy Ann and Andy A Musical Adventure.
- Michigan J. Frog only appeared in one Looney Tunes cartoon, "One Froggy Evening" yet was popular enough to (for awhile) become the icon of an entire network, The WB.
- This also applies to other one-episode-wonders from Looney Tunes, such as Pete Puma and Count Bloodcount ("Hocus pocus!" "Abracadbra!"). Many fans are actually surprised to realize they only appeared in one cartoon. Multiple decades of television reruns probably helps.
- Back Alley Oproar is quite funny with Sylvester keeping Elmer up with his singing, then this guy comes along and steals the show.
- In Chicken Little one of the most popular characters is Morkubine Porcupine he only has five minutes of screen time and he only says three words.
- From The Powerpuff Girls, two words: Rowdyruff Boys. From ONE episode came a raging torrent of fanfics, raging internet debates, and impassioned pleas to Craig McCracken to bring them back, nearly all of them completely missing the point of what the Boys were about. (What they were about: Fight, fight, fight, gross out, fight some more. The Mayor had more depth than that.) And when McCracken finally gave in and brought them back, they hardly changed at all! To this day they're some of the most popular PPG supporting characters EVER (even have a dot-net website), despite being essentially just a more powerful and vicious Gang Green Gang.
- But there are 2 very good reasons to their appeal, shallowness aside: 1) They can be paired with the Girls in a series with little or no romance, making the "One of them decides to turn good" plot popular. 2)They are the only enemies in the series to beat the girls AND keep the powers they used to beat them/almost beat them (Both Mojo and the Ganggreen Gang came close, but they were all Brought Down to Normal by the end of the episode).
- Dick Hardly, a one-shot villain who made litteral rip-offs of the girls to sell to cities all over the place, managed to be this. Likely due to being a Complete Monster and probably one of the worst villains in the show (possibly even worse than Him, who is supposedly the devil himself), which makes him rather easy to remember. Another thing making him stand out is he's the only human in the series to actually be Killed Off for Real.
- In the three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender, we see Koh the Face-Stealer twice. One episode, wayyy back in the first season, when Aang first travels to the Spirit World. Why do we remember him? Because he's a gigantic centipede trickster spirit who will steal your face and wear it like a mask if you show the slightest twitch of expression. And technically, he's not even a bad guy. Few monsters have ever been so imaginatively, effortlessly terrifying - it's no wonder fans clamoured for more.
- His second appearance was in a flashback during the finale, which reveals a previous avatar's experience with him.
- Worst part: he doesn't kill you. Look at the monkey outside his lair for proof.
- Alternatively, he does kill you (the monkey was in the Spirit World, after all) and even in the afterlife your spirit remains faceless.
- Let us not forget the Foaming Mouth Guy and the cabbage merchant- fanon adores these two. The foamy guy has three nicknames, the aforementioned Foamy Mouth Guy, just Foamy, and Frothers. The cabbage guy is just referred to as...the Cabbage Merchant.
- Koizilla (the ocean spirit's One-Winged Angel form) is one of the most memorable scenes, as is the Lion Turtle.
- WANG FIRE!
- Fanficcer favorite Song, who appeared exactly once (in "The Cave of Two Lovers"). Her chemistry with Zuko was such that she's pretty much option #3 for Zuko shipping (behind Katara and Mai).
- As of this writing, exactly one episode of The Legend of Calamity Jane is available for viewing on YouTube. And while he would have gone on to be a regular character, until somebody finds a way to release the rest of the series, Clancy Brown's two-minute appearance as Wild Bill Hickok just may be the best thing about it.
- Ariel, Niko's mentor was such a colorful Badass Grandma that she's a favorite for Galaxy Rangers fanfic writers, despite showing up in only one episode.
- Invader Zim had Tak, a scary and Crazy Awesome psychopathic female counterpart to Zim. She only appeared in one episode, but she's hugely popular. (Actually, the creators had planned to bring her back regularly and feature her as a major antagonist, but then...well...the show got cancelled before that could happen.)
- The Hobo in "Gaz, Taster of Pork."
- He would've gotten a co-starring role in a whole episode, if the series continued much further.
- THE SHADOWHOG from the above episode.
- And Drill Sergeant 667 in Hobo 13, played by R. Lee Ermey.
- Scum puddling Squag Doogies!
- The Hobo in "Gaz, Taster of Pork."
- The seagulls in Finding Nemo appear in two scenes with less than two minutes of screen time between them, yet a mere mention of them can still crack up most adults who saw the movie.
- "Mine? Mine? Minemineminemine?"
- Scrat from Ice Age, particularly in the first movie. provides more than one Crowning Moment of Funny despite having no lines and about five minutes of screentime. He got spin-offs.
- Freakazette of Freakazoid, at least according to CR of YouTube and That Guy With The Glasses (as seen here). She only appears in about four seconds of an introductory song, but never in the show. CR rags on the creators for never doing anything with the character after putting her in a spotlight on top of giant letters spelling her name. Yeah, Viewers are Morons for thinking that she'd actually be in the show, right?
- Candle Jack starred in one episode and appeared briefly in only two others, yet somehow he became popular and memetic enough to get his own page on this ver
- In the DCAU, there is a show called The New Batman Adventures. In that show, there is an episode titled "Beware the Creeper". And in that episode, there is a scene where the Creeper, in all his yellow-skinned, manic glory, gleefully barges into a clothing store in search of a new costume. Everyone in the store runs away screaming... except for a clerk who remains completely, utterly stoic (making deadpan comments the whole way) as she helps him pick an outfit and passes him through. And she was called: "Thriftie".
- In Turtles Forever, Tohka and Razar, the duo of Ensemble Darkhorses from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films appears...for all of five seconds as part of the '03 Shredder's Mutant army.
- They also made their appearance in the 1987 series episode, "Dirk Savage: Mutant Hunter". The
- The old The Tick animated series featured, in its run, precisely one episode with a would-be villain calling himself 'The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight' (yeah, baby!). This character was so blisteringly off-the-wall - even by The Tick's standards - that he is easily one of the most memorable characters in the entire series.
"And so he says to me, you want to be a bad guy? and I say Yeah Baby! I want to be bad! I says Churchill space ponies I'm making gravy without the lumps! Ah ha ha ha ha haaaaa!!!!!"
- TEMBWBAT got a later one-scene appearance trying to get into the villain awards but being rejected by the bouncer.
"One of these days, baby! MILKSHAKE! BOOM!"
- After Remy Buxaplenty's lone appearance on The Fairly Odd Parents ("Fairy Fairy Quite Contrary") many fans clamored for another appearance from him and his fairy, and the clamors grew especially after a Halloween episode which had an appearance by Remy's father (but not Remy himself). He eventually got a couple more episodes a few seasons later.
- Originally, the Metalocalypse character Dr. Rockzo the Rock n Roll Clown (he does cocaine) was a minor character at Murderface's birthday party who only got 50 seconds of screen time. However, the fans and creators liked him so much, he was added as a recurring guest star in 5 more episodes.
- In that first 50 seconds, he says he does cocaine three and a half times.
- Lisa the Babysitter only appeared in a single episode of Dexters Laboratory, but look how much fanart she has.
- The flower from The Brave Little Toaster, if the comments on youtube videos are anything to judge by.
- Oh, and THE CLOWN.
- Speaking of Nightmare Fuel, the Air Conditioner.
- SpongeBob SquarePants has given us a fish who only appears for not even ten seconds and spawns a meme.
- Isn't that guy just making a face like the one from "The Scream"?
- There's also the "Chocolate" guy and the fish with the injured leg.
- MOAR Krabs appears for only a flash second, and it becomes an instant meme
- Though he never actually appears: "Once there was an ugly barnacle".
- Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen. He was number one!!!
- Madame Mim in Disney's The Sword in the Stone appears just long enough to engage in a wizard's duel with Merlin. Also the female squirrel who falls for a transformed Arthur.
- Transformers Generation 1 has a ton of these due to Loads and Loads of Characters needing to be sold and not loads and loads of time. Some characters make very memorable appearances that are sadly rare and brief. Sixshot, for example, is introduced by Galvatron as a 'one-robot army,' proves it by taking out the entire Aerialbot team singlehandedly, earning his name by using each of his then-unprecedented six transformations to do it, and is then not seen again.
- Can also go for accessories. At one point in the three-part premiere, Optimus and Megatron are fighting on top of a dam. Optimus transforms his arm into a glowing energy ax. Megatron transforms his into a glowing energy morningstar. They battle for a minute or two, before Megatron leaves by spinning his morningstar in the air and flying off as if it's a helicopter propellor. These weapons are never seen again. You'd think it'd be a Big Lipped Alligator Moment, but it's so hugely memorable that there have been homages to it ever since, popping up in toys and comics often. It's almost certainly the reason Transformers Animated Optimus has an axe as his main weapon.
- On Total Drama, the blond intern was originally this. He was pretty much just a character in the background of the TDA Aftermaths, but fans latched onto him, named him Billy (which has since been used by Word of God) and got him made into a recurring character on the game proper.
- "Clone Cody" (aka "Alien Cody") from the Area 51 episode. The short gag, which can be found here, was basically just a quick Shout-Out to Invasion of the Body Snatchers where Cody (an Ensemble Darkhorse himself) is confronted by a short-lived doppelganger. From people who found him funny to people who found him hot, the fact is Clone Cody is quite popular. There's even a fad now where people design clone versions of the other members of the TD cast.
- Fred from Courage the Cowardly Dog. Despite only appearing in one episode (apart from a brief cameo at the end of "Ball Of Revenge") he has become one of the series' most recognizable and frightening villains.
- There's also the blue... whatever you want to call it from "Perfect." The thing is one of the scariest and most notorious creatures in a scary series, and it gets less than 10 seconds of screen-time.
- Kitty and Bunny from the episode "The Mask".
- There's also the blue... whatever you want to call it from "Perfect." The thing is one of the scariest and most notorious creatures in a scary series, and it gets less than 10 seconds of screen-time.
- Occasionally on Beavis and Butthead, a girl named Daria sees the titular duo in the middle of something stupid. She barely reacts to the Unusually Uninteresting Sight, makes a snide remark about the boys' stupidity, then disappears for pretty much the rest of the episode. As hilarious as Beavis and Butthead can be, I can definitely see how this character would end up getting her own series.
- Teen Titans: Argent. Oh so much. A Pettanko dressed in the whole gothic dress thing and has an Australian accent? And her big action during the scene was...getting a communicator from Starfire. Yeah. Her minimal time on screen didn't stop her from becoming a fan art favorite.
- A relationship example: Kid Flash and Jinx appeared in two and five episodes, respectively. Their relationship had an episode mostly devoted to it, and then a couple of lines a few episodes later. It's the fourth most written for Teen Titans couple on fanfiction.net.
- Let's not forget Red X who has become on of the most popular characters in the show despite only appearing twice.
- South Park has the Me Me-inspiring underpants gnomes and the sexual harassment panda.
- The Modifyers has Baron Vain, whose psychopathy and ridiculousness won the hearts of those who actually saw it.
- Hondo from The Clone Wars. Why? Because he single-handedly outwitted Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Count Dooku... 3 times! All in the course of one two-parter episode. Also, he was charming and friendly during the whole thing.
- Tale Spin has many one-shot guest star characters who are popular with the fans.
- In episode 14 of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, titled "Suited For Success", a white unicorn with a blue-and-turquoise mane appears on screen for about 6 seconds. Judging from the turntable in front of her, fans decided that she is a DJ. She got a name (Vinyl Scratch), a stage name (DJ P0N-3), and a few fanfics and quite a bit of fanart, and shout outs in commercials and an official t-shirt. And now she's toy.
- Said DJ pony makes a return in the Season 2 finale for yet another One-Scene Wonder.
- The wall-eyed pony was an animation mistake in part one of the Friendship Is Magic pilot. Derpy Hooves became a near-instant Ascended Extra, just add insane, never-say-die fandom.
- Then there are the Shadowbolts, who have gotten quite a few fans despite them not really existing - including Rainbow Dash, who dresses up as one for Nightmare Night.
- The fandom loves these. Octavia (the cello-playing pony from "The Best Night Ever"), Sapphire Shores (a pony pop-star who kicks off the plot of "A Dog and Pony Show"), the camp sea serpent from "Elements of Harmony" (who has gained the nickname "Steven Magnet" thanks to the hilarious youtube closed captions) and Princess Luna (who returned in Season 2, episode 4) and countless other characters get no more than a minute of screen time and a few lines of dialogue (if any), yet own their screen time so hard people are still talking about them.
- Crackle the dragon. A 4 second Cutaway Gag of a very odd looking dragon that just happens to look like Twilight's Rainbow's and Rarity's Paper-Thin Disguise.
- Firefly, Medley, Twilight, Applejack, Bowtie, Scorpan, and Tirek are some of the most popular My Little Pony characters but in American canon only appeared in the first of the two My Little Pony TV Specials.
- The Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy Grand Finale Movie introduces us to Eddy's long-unseen older brother. He only gets five minutes of screen time...AND WHAT A FIVE MINUTES THOSE WERE.
- Tiny Toon Adventures had Julie Bruin. In one very short toon, yet memorable for perhaps unwholesome reasons, as well as being a spoof of her voice actor, Julie Brown.
- The best example in Zootopia is Gazelle, again, not only for her musical number (that is played at the beginning and end of the film), but also for... obvious reasons. There's also a few lesser ones in the film.
- The briefly-seen married lesbian couple in the third season's 25th episode on We Bare Bears.
- someone counted them